Peaks and Kallies: Soph’s 3-pointer lifts Lady Zs past Delphi in sectional semis
Thomas scores 13; Howdeshell adds 7, clutch steal
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
NORTH MANCHESTER –- The Delphi girls basketball team was backing off Kallie Watson.
They were practically daring her to shoot.
She took their dare and ended their season.
Watson hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:34 left, and Emma Howdeshell added two free throws with 11.5 seconds left to lift the Rochester girls basketball team to a 40-37 win over Delphi in a Class 2A, Sectional 37 semifinal at Manchester Friday.
Lexy Thomas led RHS with 11 points, but the Lady Zs also did it with defense, holding Delphi without a field goal and forcing seven turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Though Howdeshell’s free throws provided insurance, the Lady Zs survived despite making only five of 15 from the line.
Harley Myer led Delphi with 13 points, and Haley Nelson and Kiara Morris had seven each.
RHS improved to 11-8 and earned a spot in the sectional final against Manchester at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Manchester beat Lewis Cass 58-48 in Friday’s first semifinal.
Eliminated by the Lady Zs from the sectional for the second straight year, Delphi finished 3-12.
Delphi came into the sectional on a five-game losing streak, and they had not beaten a team with a winning record all year.
But when Morris hit two free throws with 1:53 left, Delphi had a 37-35 lead.
Watson, who had not made a field goal all game and who did not make her first 3-pointer of the season until Tuesday’s quarterfinal win over Wabash, found herself open behind the arc from the left wing after Howdeshell got cut off trying to penetrate from the left side. Delphi’s Lacey Pickering gave her space, and Watson’s trey hit nothing but net.
RHS led 38-37.
“I knew we were down, and the girl wasn’t, like, really guarding me, so … I just decided to pull it, and recently, earlier in the season, I obviously didn’t hit that many shots, so I’m starting to feel more confident,” Watson said. “When I shot it, I felt confident of it going in, and when it did, it was a game-changing feeling.”
Then came a steal from Kaitlin Rogers. Rochester played keepaway as Delphi had to burn two fouls to give.
Howdeshell was fouled with 39.0 seconds left but missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Then came perhaps Delphi’s best chance.
After a timeout with 31.7 seconds left, Delphi coach Rainey Jones called a play where post player Haley Nelson dribbled around tight defense from Thomas and dropped a high-low pass from the foul line to Myer on the doorstep of the basket.
She missed a two-footer, and Kennedy Jackson rebounded for the Lady Zs.
Howdeshell was fouled again with 14.7 seconds left and missed another front end of a one-and-one.
But Rogers infiltrated her way in for the rebound and forced a held ball with Myer. The possession arrow pointed towards Rochester with 12.5 seconds left.
Howdeshell then made two free throws with 11.5 seconds left.
Myer had an open look at a potential game-tying 3-pointer but missed, and after a scramble for the loose ball, there was another held ball with 2.0 seconds left. That gave Delphi one more chance, but Howdeshell intercepted Nelson’s inbounds pass and ran out the clock.
Delphi had been allowing 55 points per game during their five-game losing streak, but they presented different looks in the post, and players like the 6-0 Nelson and the 5-10 Myer made converting in the post difficult for players like Millie Scorsone and Emily Hughes.
Delphi also had any defenders go underneath screens and meet Rochester defenders in the middle, trying to force them to shoot 15-footers.
Meanwhile, Kaitlyn Miller guarded Rogers and held her scoreless in the second half.
“They had the one girl number 12 (Miller) guarding her a lot, and when Kaitlin caught the ball, there was somebody right there,” RHS varsity assistant Ray Davis said. “She got some 3s off, and some of them were rushed because she saw the spacing that was there, but I thought coach Jones did a really good job of not letting Kaitlin catch some wide open looks for some 3s.”
But it was on offense where Delphi struggled. They committed 25 turnovers, including seven in the fourth quarter.
“We have young guards, and I feel like we turned the ball over more than we needed to,” Jones said. “I do think defensively we were pretty good and we were consistent on the defensive end. We just could not capitalize on the open shots that we had.”
Rochester led 13-6 after one quarter and still led 26-20 on Kennedy Jackson 3-point play with 7:05 left in the third quarter.
But Delphi’s Evann Royal hit a 3-pointer, and Morris scored off a Royal assist. A Miller free throw with 4:19 left in the third quarter tied the game at 26, and neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way.
Royal’s 3-pointer with 52 seconds left in the third quarter gave Delphi a 33-32 lead, but it turned out to be the Lady Oracles’ final field goal.
“We didn’t really do anything different,” RHS coach Brian Jennings said of the fourth quarter defense. “We extended the zone out, but we’ve been pressing and stuff before and extended it out a little bit. I hate to say this, but I think it comes down to Delphi having a young team and just not knowing how to win games. If they would have won a few more games here late in the season, I think they probably would have got us tonight.”
Manchester 58, Lewis Cass 48
Eva Bazzoni scored 12 of her game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter, and Emma Garriott added 10 to lead Manchester to a win over Lewis Cass in the evening’s first semifinal.
Trailing by as many as 16 points, Lewis Cass rallied to take a 38-37 lead on a Elly Logan turnaround bucket with 6:50 left.
But Manchester responded with a 9-0 run to go ahead for good. Bazzoni’s steal and breakaway layup with 5:25 left put Manchester ahead for good at 40-38.
Bazzoni also went 12 for 12 from the foul line, including six for six in the final 34.5 seconds after Lewis Cass had pulled within four.
Logan had 15, Kendal Johnson had 14, and Kyndal Silcox had 10 for Lewis Cass, who finished 8-13.
Lewis Cass has not had a winning season since 2003 and has not won a sectional title since 2005.
Rochester 40, Delphi 37
DELPHI (37) (3-12)
Evann Royal 2 0-0 6, Lacey Pickering 1 0-0 3, Kiara Morris 2 3-5 7, Harley Myer 4 4-4 13, Haley Nelson 2 3-4 7, Kaitlyn Miller 0 1-2 1, Reagan Gleason 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 11 11-15 37
ROCHESTER (40) (11-8)
Emma Howdeshell 2 2-4 7, Kennedy Jackson 2 2-5 6, Lexy Thomas 5 1-2 11, Kaitlin Rogers 2 0-0 5, Millie Scorsone 1 0-4 2, Kallie Watson 2 0-0 5, Kim Batten 0 0-0 0, Sydney Haughs 0 0-0 0, Emily Hughes 2 0-0 4, Mercedes Brown 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 16 5-15 40
Three-point field goals:
Delphi 4 (Royal 2, Pickering, Myer),
Rochester 3 (Howdeshell, Watson, Rogers)
Total fouls: Delphi 16, Rochester 17
Turnovers: Delphi 25, Rochester 21
Score by quarters
Delphi 6 11 16 4 – 37
Rochester 13 8 11 8 – 40
Rochester sophomore guard Emma Howdeshell (3) guards Delphi sophomore guard Evann Royal (1) during their Class 2A, Sectional 37 semifinal at Manchester High School Friday. Howdeshell scored seven points in the Lady Zs’ 40-37 win.