It was a classic game of Hoosier hysteria. The Manchester and Wabash girls’ basketball teams were meeting Saturday for the Wabash sectional championship and a trip to the Lapel regional.
Manchester made it to the championship game with a convincing 49-23 win over Lewis Cass and a 54-41 win over North Miami. Wabash made it to the championship game by winning a 43-35 nail biter over county foe Southwood, and then made it to the championship game by nipping Northfield 36-29.
Manchester was seeking their first sectional championship since 2007, while Wabash was trying to win their fifth in a row. In a game that wasn’t decided until the last 10 seconds, Wabash would prevail 33-27.
Less than a minute into the game, Claire Cromer nailed a three pointer to put Wabash up 3-0. In a game were defense was physical, having to stop play at one time for blood when Bekah Brunn took a shot on the chin, the two teams battled for position, with neither being able to find the bucket for the next 6 minutes.
Kyleigh Hampton hit for Wabash with 1:10 remaining to stop the drought to go up 5-0, with Manchester responding the last 45 seconds. Tabby DeWitt hit, followed up by a bucket from Kalene Feshour and Wabash led 5-4 after the first quarter.
The pace would pick up a little in the second quarter, but neither team could get clicking on all cylinders. Claire Cromer started scoring to put Wabash up 7-4. Bekah Brunn would then connect on two free throws for the Squires and then score on a feed from Kayla Flack to give Manchester their first lead at 8-7.
The lead would change four times in the next four minutes until Abby Stein hit for Wabash to give them a 13-12 lead with 2:06 left in the half. Kyleigh Hampton and Lyndsie Thomas would finish the scoring in the half with buckets for the Apaches and Wabash led 17-12 at the half.
To start the third quarter, it looked as though Wabash might run away from Manchester. Two minutes into the quarter, Lyndsie Thomas hit and was followed by two free throws from Sarah Puckett to give Wabash their largest lead at 21-12.
Off the Puckett free throw, Kayla Flack took the ball out of bounds, hitting Kalene Freshour in stride on a full court pass for a lay-up to make it 21-14. After a Hampton bucket made it 23-14, neither team could find the bucket the next 3:38 with the exception of one Wabash and two Manchester free throws, making it 24-16 with a quarter to go.
Manchester, unwilling to just roll over and go away came out smoking hot in the fourth. Autumn Brewer hit two free throws and was followed by a Bekah Brunn bucket. With 6:39 to play, Brewer hit two more free throws, with Brunn making one a minute later, and with 5:38 remaining had cut the Wabash lead to 24-23.
In the next minute the Apaches would find themselves getting into foul trouble as Hampton picked up her fourth along with Cromer. With 4:44 remaining, Tabby DeWitt would hit two free throws and Manchester was up 25-24. Cromer erased the Manchester lead a minute later with a three to put Wabash up 27-25 with 3:00 left and the strategy game was on.
Manchester would work the ball for nearly a minute, looking for a good shot when Lyndsie Thomas came up with a steal with 2:00 remaining and the Apaches immediately went to the four corners. Manchester would finally foul with 55.2 on the clock and call time out.
Thomas missed the front end of the one and one, with Manchester grabbing the rebound, only to be calling for traveling with 43.5 left, making it 29-27 and fouling. Claire Cromer hit both free throws and the Squires hurried down the flood, with Hampton blocking the shot and Manchester fouling with 1.4 remaining. Cromer again, drained both free throws for 33-27 final.
Leading Wabash was Claire Cromer with 15 points, 1 rebound and 3 assists. Kyleigh Hampton added 8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 6 blocks. Lyndsie Thomas had 6 points and 1 rebound. Abby Stein chipped in 2 points and 1 steal. Sarah Puckett had 2 points and 2 rebounds. Katelyn Vogel had 1 rebound and 1 assist. Kristen Ford had 2 assists. Charlie Pardo had 1 assist.
For Manchester, Bekah Brunn and Tabby DeWitt had 7 points each. DeWitt had 1 block and 7 rebounds. Kalene Freshour and Autumn Brewer had 6 points each. Freshour had 1 assist and 6 rebounds. Brewer had 9 rebounds. Kayla Flack had 1 point, 5 assists, 9 rebounds and 1 steal. Katelyn Andritsch had 2 rebounds. Sydney Snep had 1 rebound.
Wabash (17-6) will meet Seeger (19-7) at 10 a.m. in the first game of the Lapel regional Saturday. Winchester (20-4) will meet Eastern (19-3) in the second game. The championship game is schedule for 8 p.m.