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  • Val T.

Caston edges Tri-County on Douglass layup, wins first sectional since 1985

Zimpleman scores 13, Scales contributes double-double; next up: Bethany Christian, 7 p.m. Saturday


Sports Editor, RTC

The Caston girls basketball team edged Tri-County 37-36 to win the Class 1A, Sectional 52 title at South Newton Saturday. Caston outscored the Lady Cavaliers 12-4 in the fourth quarter to come back from a seven-point deficit and win their first sectional title since 1985. The No. 7 Lady Comets will face No. 15 Bethany Christian, the defending semistate champions, in a regional at 7 p.m. this Saturday at Caston. (photos provided by Dee Brown)

There is irony in the concept of time for the Caston girls basketball team.

Caston freshman guard Madi Douglass (22) drives in for a left-handed layup over Tri-County’s Sara Zarse (11) during the Class 1A, Sectional 52 final at South Newton Saturday. Douglass had nine points as Caston won 37-36 to win their first sectional title since 1985. (photo provided by Dee Brown)

After not winning a sectional for 39 years, it took a split-second decision to finally make it happen.

And because of that, the banner that will fly in the school gym will hang forever.

Isabel Scales made the split-second decision, finding freshman guard Madi Douglass behind the defense for the go-ahead layup with 11 seconds left as the Lady Comets edged Tri-County 37-36 Saturday to win the Class 1A, Sectional 52 title at South Newton High School.

Caston improved to 21-3 and won their second sectional title in school history. The other occurred in 1985.

The sectional title is the third for coach Josh Douglass. A 1999 Caston grad, Douglass noted that he was 4 years old when Caston last won a sectional.

Douglass also coached Riverton Parke to sectional titles in 2012 and 2017.

“It always feels good,” coach Douglass said. “They’re hard to win, and when you can get one, it’s fun.”

Addison Zimpleman scored 13 points to lead Caston, and Scales added 12 points and 14 rebounds to go along with the game’s biggest assist. Douglass had nine and outscored the entire Tri-County team 7-4 in the fourth quarter.

The sectional is another historic accomplishment for the group of

Caston senior Isabel Scales dribbles up the floor against Tri-County in the Class 1A, Sectional 52 final at South Newton Saturday. Scales had 12 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and three steals in Caston’s 37-36 win. Caston will play Bethany Christian at 7 p.m. this Saturday at Caston in the regional. (photo provided by Dee Brown)

players, many of whom also played on the Caston softball team that won the first sectional, regional and semistate titles in school history last spring.

“It feels amazing,” Scales said. “We've been working for this for so long. Everybody says that basketball sectional is bigger than softball. I’m glad I got to figure out that that is true.”

Said Zimpleman: “It feels good. It’s a feeling you can’t beat. It compares to softball, but at the same time, it’s a different sport atmosphere.”

Coach Douglass called timeout with 11 seconds left after Madi Douglass’ basket. When play resumed, Zarse would work her way along the right sideline and then spin into the post where Scales and Alexa Finke were waiting for her. She leaned into Scales once, then twice and then forced up a bank attempt that hit nothing but glass.

Zimpleman rebounded as the horn sounded, and Macee Hinderlider leaped into the air and ran in the direction of Harsh for an embrace as the rest of the Caston bench was there to embrace Finke and Madi Douglass.

“It feels absolutely amazing to be with my team and winning,” Finke said.

“It’s definitely meaningful, and it’s a bigger crowd than softball,” Hinderlider, who is also the softball third baseman, said. “I’d say the atmosphere is way different.”

Harsh, who is also the softball first baseman, said she and the four other seniors are like “sisters.”

“It feels pretty good,” Harsh said. “It’s really exciting to do it in basketball just like we did in softball.”

Zimpleman ran and hugged coach Douglass and then assistant coach Alanie Hipsher.

Meanwhile, Scales knelt briefly in exhilaration in front of the basket and then ran back before nearly tackling coach Douglass.

Tri-County, who beat Caston by five in their regular season meeting on Jan. 11, finished 17-7. Caston snapped their seven-game winning streak.

Hannah Arvin scored 15 points, and Allista Taulman had 10 for the Lady Cavaliers.

The Lady Comets, ranked No. 7, will play No. 15 Bethany Christian in a regional at Caston at 7 p.m. this Saturday.

Caston trailed 32-25 at the outset of the fourth quarter but went on a 9-0 run to take their first lead since the first quarter.

Scales muscled in a putback between two defenders at the 7:06 mark, and Scales hit Douglass in transition to make it 32-29.

Coach Douglass called timeout.

After a defensive stop, Alexa Finke grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked out to Madi Douglass at the top of the key. She sunk a game-tying 3-pointer.

After another defensive stop, Caston worked the ball around the perimeter to Zimpleman on the right wing. She split two defenders, leaned back to get an angle on the backboard and banked in the go-ahead layup to make it 34-32.

Tri-County, who had seemingly fought off seemingly every Caston comeback attempt, replied again with Zarse scoring on a driving layup to tie it with 2:48 left.

Caston would retake the lead at 35-34 when Scales made a free throw at the 1:43 mark after being fouled while trying to score from the post.

Hinderlider had a steal, but Tri-County stole it back from her.

Taulman missed two free throws with 1:32 left, and Scales rebounded.

Douglass missed, and Evalynn Ross rebounded for Tri-County, but she was surrounded and then traveled.

Zarse fouled Finke with 46.7 seconds left after a Scales pass led her to the rim for a layup attempt, but Finke missed both free throws.

Taulman got to the weak side and took a Zarse pass as Zarse drove along the baseline and got free for a 15-footer from the left baseline with 20 seconds left to put Tri-County back up at 36-35, but Scales took three dribbles and immediately whipped a pass to Douglass behind the defense for the go-ahead bucket.

“Honestly, that was just praise to the lord,” Scales said. “We passed it in. I looked down the court. We made eye contact, and I just let it fly, and she nailed it. It was amazing.”

Coach Douglass said the players knew that he did not want a timeout even if Tri-County scored to take the lead.

“We already had our play set up that we wanted to run,” coach Douglass said. “I think that might come from some experience because I’ve called that timeout and gotten beat, and in that scramble situation, you kind of like that to where you can get that leak-out like we had there at the end of the game. So you had teams scrambling, so maybe that comes from experience in being in those situations of not panicking. And then I used my final timeout to try and get our defense set up and under control.”

Scoring was a chore against a Tri-County defense that allowed 16 points per game in wins over Frontier and North White that got them to the final.

“They’re tall, lanky and quick,” coach Douglass said. “They got two really good outside shooters that you’ve got to find at all times, but Arvin and Zarse are so tall, and the girl they bring off the bench (Ross), they’re just so long and athletic.”

“Getting the ball inside the paint is sometimes really hard because you think it’s open but it’s not because they cover so much ground,” Zimpleman said. “But as long as we have good ball movement, we were able to succeed tonight.”

Caston 37, Tri-County 36

TRI-COUNTY (36) (17-7)

Spencer 0 0-0 0, Arvin 5 5-5 15, Bahler 0 1-2 1, Zarse 2 2-2 6, Culp 0 0-0 0, Durando 0 0-0 0, Ross 1 0-0 2, Taulman 4 0-2 10, Luck 0 2-2 2

TEAM: 12 10-13 36

CASTON (37) (21-3)

Macee Hinderlider 0 0-0 0, Addison Zimpleman 5 2-4 13, Madi Douglass 4 0-0 9, Isabel Scales 4 4-6 12, Alexa Finke 0 0-4 0, Olivia Thomas 0 0-0 0, Annie Harsh 1 0-0 3

TEAM: 14 6-14 37

Three-point field goals:

Tri-County 2 (Taulman 2),

Caston 3 (Zimpleman, Douglass, Harsh)

Total fouls: Tri-County 14, Caston 13

Turnovers: Tri-County 10, Caston 17

Score by quarters

Tri-County 7 10 15 4 36

Caston 4 10 11 12 37

Caston fans, players and coaches celebrate at the final buzzer after the Lady Comets edged Tri-County 37-36 in the Class 1A, Sectional 52 final at South Newton Saturday. (photos provided by Dee Brown)

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