BLUFFTON—The Lady Stars proved Friday night in the sectional semi-finals that early starts aren't always the key to success in basketball.
Despite going scoreless after one quarter, South Adams topped Churubusco 34-25 at Bluffton High School to move on to the sectional finals tonight against Bishop Luers who are seeking their sixth straight title, 20th overall.
In fact, Luers has won 13 of the last 15 sectional championships.
The Starfires entered the contest with Churubusco still on a high after winning their first sectional game since 2009 when they topped Bluffton on Tuesday night. In 2009, the Stars also beat Bluffton to get to the finals where they lost to, who else, Bishop Luers.
In Friday's contest against the Lady Eagles, nothing went right for the Stars in the first quarter. South Adams went 0-8 from the field and committed six turnovers, while also getting outrebounded 12-4 in the frame without a single second chance on the offensive end.
Luckily for SA, Churubusco wasn't much better.
The Eagles went 3-13 from the floor with five miscues of their own finishing the quarter up 6-0 with freshman Alyssa Anderson the only player on the court with any points shooting 3-3 on offensive putbacks.
"We had good looks in the first quarter we just couldn't hit anything," laughed SA coach Brett Freeman. "We hit a few in the second but felt a little more comfortable in our offense during the third and fourth quarters."
Part of the problem for South Adams was the success they had Tuesday night against Bluffton when starting center Sharon Balsiger scored 20 points in a dominating effort on the inside.
Coach Freeman elaborated on the defensive strategy of the Eagles.
"I had a pretty good feeling that we'd see a lot of zone against this team despite the fact that they run man-to-man a lot. After Sharon scored 20 points Tuesday we knew it would be difficult to feed it inside."
Despite the offensive struggles, South Adams came out of the huddle starting the second period with a much better grasp defensively causing Churubusco all kinds of problems in the halfcourt.
The Stars gave the Eagles a taste of their own medicine outscoring them 9-0 in the frame leading 9-6 at the half. Alyssa Bluhm led the charge with a three-pointer, a lay-up, and later a free throw in the second.
Churubusco regained a slight edge in the third quarter when freshman Anna Bulmahn made her only shot of the game on a drive to the basket plus a free throw on the foul. After missing the freebie, the Eagles led 12-11.
Bluhm would drain a jumper on the other end and the Stars would not trail the rest of the game. Churubusco traded scores for the rest of the third quarter trailing 15-12 after three frames and the game was tight at 19-18 after two Eagle free throws with four minutes remaining.
On the other end, Mackenzie Jennings would hit the biggest shot of the game, a three-pointer from the corner, to give the Starfires a 22-18 lead. Jennings' basket would be the only other points from a South Adams player not named Bluhm.
The junior guard would score the Starfires' final 12 points of the game starting with a steal on the next play going coast-to-coast for a lay-up putting the Stars up by six points, the largest lead of the game to that point. In the final two minutes, Bluhm would hit 8-8 from the foul line as the Eagles tried to keep the game within reach by putting the Stars at the line but the plan would backfire.