COLUMBIA CITY – With 47 seconds to go in regulation, it looked as if Angola's six-point lead, built largely by a nearly transcendent fourth quarter from Hanna Knoll, would hold up and grant the Hornets their first regional championship in program history.
But Marion (23-4) made sure the Hornets (21-7) will have to wait a little longer, as the Giants claimed a 55-52 overtime victory in the Class 3A Columbia City regional final Saturday night.
“We gave ourselves a chance, and that's all you can ask for,” Angola coach Brandon Appleton said. “Unfortunately, a couple calls and a couple plays there at the end – maybe if I had used my timeouts a little differently – we'd have a different outcome.”
While Knoll hit three consecutive 3s and scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, Jasmyn Turner hit a clutch 3 and then got a steal and a layup to pull the Giants within two points in the final minute. Kayla Fenstekmaker hit a free throw for the Hornets, but Ellie Vermillion was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three shots to force overtime.
The Giants, who played a six-girl rotation and were down to five in the fourth quarter after Ayana Harvey picked up her fifth foul, nevertheless took control in overtime. And while Knoll had been lights-out from the field during the fourth quarter, she missed each of her three shot attempts in overtime.
“I've only had six girls all year,” Marion coach Lawrence Jordan said. “What I've been doing is I've been conditioning them all year. We were preparing for this moment, because it's just us. It's just us, five or six girls. When things get tough, we're going to battle for 32 minutes. When we fell down six points with 38 seconds (to go), we didn't quit.”
Turner finished with 25 points, while RaShaya Kyle scored 15. Kyle, a 6-foot-6 center, gave the Hornets fits in the paint.
As was the case in their semifinal against West Noble (18-6), the Giants jumped out to an early lead, this time leading by as much as 18-7 in the early minutes of the second quarter. And as in the semifinal matchup against the Chargers, the Hornets fought back, even taking the lead in the fourth quarter while the Chargers only came within two points. But in both cases, just as in their sectional final victory over Bellmont, the Giants' six-woman rotation buckled down and gutted out the victory.
Knoll, a sophomore, finished with a game-high 28 points, while Fenstekmaker scored all four of the Hornets points in overtime to finish with 12.
“She's always been capable – with Hanna, it's been a lot about making sure we get her teammates involved so teams don't just focus on her,” Appleton said. “Having as great of a supporting cast as she does tonight allowed her to do that.”
In the semifinals, the West Noble girls nearly completed the comeback against Marion, but instead fell just short and had their season ended with a 52-46 loss.
West Noble (18-6) could not find a way to stop Marion's Ayana Harvey, who scored 12 points in the first half and would finish with a game-high 20.
Lilly Mast led the Chargers with 15 points and Madison Schermerhorn had nine in her final high school game.