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Lady Raiders repeat as sectional champions

Lady Raiders repeat as sectional champions

The old cliche in sports says “defense wins championships.” South Ripley girls basketball has certainly turned the saying into real life on three occasions now this season, the most recent on Tuesday night as the Lady Raiders captured their second-straight Class 2A Sectional 45 title by drubbing Switzerland County 42-26 at Southwestern (Hanover).

It is now the third time in program history that the Lady Raiders have repeated as sectional champions. The school now lays claim to a total of 10 sectional championships in girls basketball with eight of them coming in the last 12 seasons. The 2022 crown comes after South Ripley had already won the Ripley County Tournament and Ohio River Valley Conference championships in the regular season.

And they captured the sectional repeat on Tuesday night to the tune of putting its win streak at 11 games. Switzerland County got out to a quick 6-0 start but the quick burst seemed to be the only blast of offense allowed by the green and white. South Ripley finished the first frame on an 11-1 run to lead by four points and another 11-7 frame in the second quarter put the Lady Raiders ahead 22-14 by halftime, a margin that was rather comfortable given another night of suffocating defense.

Even when the Lady Raiders only mustered six points in the third quarter, the Versailles crew limited Switzerland County to only seven points in the same eight minutes before the final stanza proved to be Ripley’s greatest assault on both ends on the floor. South Ripley blew the game wide open with a 14-5 run to clinch the championship in the fourth period and in doing so, held its sixth-straight opponent to under 30 points on the scoreboard.

The Lady Raiders will enter the regional tournament with the 12th best defense statistically in the state overall, giving up only 32.28 points per game. That number is second-best among remaining teams in the Class 2A State Tournament and will be a key factor for an athletic and lengthy squad for the remainder of the postseason.

And if the offense clicks like it did on Tuesday, that will certainly help too, especially the seven made three-pointers buried by South Ripley. Sectional 45 MVP Sarah Meyer earned her best night of play this season, dropping four 3-pointers en route to 14 points for the game, a much-deserved honor and performance for a senior who has fought most of this season to get healthy enough to play. The same can be said for twin sister Rachel Meyer, who finished with nine points in the title tilt and was also an All-Sectional selection.

Gracie Gunter, who scored eight points on Tuesday, and Emily Flood, two points on Tuesday, were also named to the All-Sectional team. South Ripley scoring was rounded out by a three-pointer apiece from Alexa Heidt and Lydia Cornett, two points from Mya McNew and one point by Katelynn Samples.

Switzerland County (18-7) was led by Maddie Duvall’s eight points and Jessica Duvall’s seven points. The latter Duvall twin reached the 1000-career point milestone on a pair of free throws in the first quarter. Both were members of the All-Sectional team and were joined by teammate Courtney Higgins who scored two points in the championship game.

South Ripley (18-8) faces North Knox (20-6) in the second regional semifinal game on Saturday at Crawford County with tipoff slated for noon. The two teams have met twice in the postseason all-time with the Lady Raiders winning both games, an overtime victory in the first game of the Class 2A South Semi-State in 2001 and a blowout win in the Class 2A Regional Semifinal in 2017.

The first semifinal on Friday features Class 2A No. 8 Forest Park (22-3) and a 15-11 Eastern (Pekin) squad.