Lauren Cross of Moriah, 10, eyes the second of two free throws with 12.8 seconds on the clock. Cross made both to seal a 34-30 win for the Vikings over the Indian Lake/Long Lake Orange Feb. 26.
In a rare matchup between two defending Section VII champions, the former Class C champ used a strong press to wear down the defending D champ.
The Moriah Lady Vikings outscored the Indian Lake/Long Lake Lady Orange 13-3 in the final eight minutes of the game to score a 34-30 win in the sectional semifinal round Feb. 26 at AuSable Valley High School.
"I thought that they did a great job," Vikings head coach Steve Pelkey said after the game. "I knew that they were not deep and we tried to wear them out as the game went on. Defensively, we picked up the intensity in the second half."
"We starting switching on their screens defensively and stepped up the intensity," Madison Stahl said. "We started running a lot more in the second half."
"We knew that we needed to move more on offense and we were able to make our cuts and get to the ball," Lauren Pelkey said. "We had never seen the 1-2-2 defense that they played against us and it took us a while to adjust."
The Vikings entered the third quarter trailing 27-21 after falling behind by as many as nine points late in the third quarter before Pelkey hit a three-pointer late in the stanza.
Lauren Cross then opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to cut the Orange lead to three. Taylor Sprague then connected on a pair of free throws to trim the lead to one at 27-26 with 4:49 remaining. On their next offensive possession, Sarah Slattery grabbed an offensive rebound and drew a foul on the ensuing shot, connecting for two as well as the free throw to give the Vikings a 29-27 lead.
The lead hovered around two points until Cross was fouled with 12.8 seconds left and a 32-30 lead. Cross stepped to the line and made both ends of a 1-and-1, giving the Vikings the four point advantage they would win by.
"It was completely overwhelming to hit those," Cross said. "I practice them every day and I was not hitting much tonight, so there was a lot of pressure. Once I sank the first one, it was so much easier on the second."
With a very balanced scoring attack, Slattery scored eight points to go with six rebounds, while Stahl had six points, five rebounds and three blocks, with Pelkey adding six points, six rebounds and three steals. Cross finished with her five fourth quarter points along with three rebounds, while Sprague had four points and three boards; Caitlin Pelkey scored three points to go with three rebounds, three assists and two steals; Haley Snyder scored two points and dished out three assists; and Sammi Ida added a rebound.
For the Orange, Abby Darling scored nine points to go with seven rebounds, while Jessica Bain added eight points and 10 rebounds; Shannon Farrell scored seven points to go with three assists and three steals; Meg Smith scored five points and grabbed four rebounds; Sydney Hinckley added one points and two rebounds; with Morgan King grabbing two boards.
The third seeded Vikings will play Elizabethtown-Lewis Friday, March 1, at the Plattsburgh State Fieldhouse at 4 p.m.
"I'm really excited," Stahl said. "This has been my goal since the beginning of the season. I think having been their last year and winning the Class C title will give us some confidence that will hopefully pay off."
"It is nice to be going back with championship experience," Coach Pelkey said. "I am not sure what the rest of the league expected from us this year, but I know that I had high expectations."