Saturday, January 13, 2018 10:20 pm
South Adams 55, Jay County 45
South Adams takes 1st ACAC tourney title
AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette
BERNE – Cool, calm and collected.
South Adams remained just that in a 55-45 win over Jay County to win the program's first ACAC tournament championship at the Stardome on Saturday.
The Patriots were the three-time defending tournament champions, all in their first three years in the conference.
"We were ready to make a difference because all these people came to watch Jay County play, and we just wanted to prove them wrong and that's what we did," South Adams' Madi Wurster said.
The Starfires won the 2016-17 ACAC regular season championship, including a win over Jay County but a tournament title eluded them. Also, the two teams had previously played this season, back on Dec. 16 with Jay County beating South Adams 49-40.
"It's a great honor for this team," South Adams coach Brett Freeman said. "Last year, it was the first time our team had won the conference regular season championship. This team has had a lot of firsts in the program so we're really happy with the things we've accomplished but we hope to accomplish more down the stretch.
"That was definitely disappointing to not get it done last year and it was us and Jay County playing in the semifinals so for us, losing to them in the regular season made our girls a little more hungry. Tonight, they answered, girls stepped up and played really well."
The 6-foot-2 Wurster was on the bench for much of the first half because of foul trouble, but the Starfires (12-7) trailed 19-18 at half and tied the score at 30 at the end of the third quarter.
With Wurster back in the fourth to give the Starfires an inside presence, South Adams got it going and opened the fourth quarter with a 15-4 run to go up 45-34.
"I would just have to say once we started going, we couldn't stop," Wurster said. "Once we started making shots, we just kept going and it just shut them down. I just feel like things just started clicking. Once everyone started shooting, they couldn't stop."
The Starfires outscored the Patriots (12-7) 25-15 in the fourth quarter with Wurster's scoring 12 of her team-leading 19 points.
Lexi Dellinger, named the Most Valuable Player for the tournament, scored 11 points in the finale, while Sydney Pierce added 10.
"It feels amazing," Dellinger said of the win. "They're always our biggest rival and I love beating Jay County. This one's much bigger (than winning the regular season title) because we've never won this in our school history so all these players get to leave a mark on our program.
"Everyone stepped up and everyone brought it, our fans were amazing and everyone just worked as a team. We played hard defense, it was great."