Yes, the Seneca girls basketball team is going to the sectional this Thursday in Richland Center, but make no mistake about it, they definitely fought to get there.
Their biggest challenge was without a doubt the regional final last Saturday night in Seneca against a scrappy River Ridge team.
How scrappy was River Ridge? Plenty.
The Timberwolves knocked off the second-seeded Ithaca Bulldogs on Friday night 44-24 to earn the right to face the Indians.
Seneca and their coach Kim Redman had no illusions about what it would be like playing the Timberwolves. The Indians edged Wolves 27-22 in a hard-fought, low-scoring non-conference game during the regular season.
So, Saturday night it was game on and before the Indians walked off the court with their 44-38 victory, they had plenty to prove.
Things looked good for the Indians in the first quarter as they jumped out to 17-8 lead. Senior Alexis Payne scored six points in the quarter and it appeared the Indian were on a roll. Hold on though, the Timberwolves came to play for the regional championship and play they would.
River Ridge scored 13 points in the second quarter, while limiting Seneca to just three points. The Timberwolves took a 21-20 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Indians regrouped in the third quarter to take a 32-27 lead. They then pushed that lead to 10 and 11 points late in the fourth quarter. The Wolves weren’t done they ratcheted up their man-to-man defense with a full court press and fouled to put Seneca on line to get the ball. At the line, the Indians missed free throws. The Wolves battled back. In the end it was too little, too late and Seneca held on for 44-38 victory, as River Ridge hit a shot at the buzzer to trim the lead to six points.
After the game, coach Redman readily acknowledged that defensively River Ridge is a very tough team to play.
“They play a very good man-to-man defense,” Redman aid. “They had good discipline and good coaching.”
Playing in the last game of their high school careers on the home court, that seniors Logan Lessard and Alexis Payne led all scorers with 16 and 14 points respectively. Sophomore guard Taylor Redman scored eight points.
Defeating River Ridge for the Regional Championship, means Seneca advances to sectional play this Thursday when they take on Brookwood at 7 p.m. in Richland Center High School gym.
Brookwood had 10-4 conference record and was in four-way tie for first place in the Scenic Bluffs Conference with Hillsboro, Bangor and Royall. They defeated Royall 41-38 in the regional final to advance to the sectional. Brookwood substitutes frequently and uses a pressure defense and full-court pressure to cause turnovers.