JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
The last time Okaw Valley and Atwood 7th grades played it was a barn-burner and Atwood on. The met in a regional rematch at the Okaw Valley Regional Championship and it was another n-burner, with Okaw geting the win and the title, 27-26.
In the 1st half, the two teams got busy and scored 31 points combined, but were separated by just a point, Okaw led 16-15.
In the 1st half, Okaw used their strengths, scoring off the dribble, driving and drawing fouls, making free throws and getting steals. Atwood used their strengths, long arms, shot blocking, outside shooting, and rebounding.
In the 3rd quarter, Atwood took the lead on more of the same. But in the 4th quarter, Okaw won on defense and guts.
Atwood won the opening tip, but it was Okaw Valley that scored first on a running lay-up by Paige Robinson off a pick by Erin Nichols. Two minutes later, a defensive poke at the Atwood end and Natalie Jeffers beat everyone down the floor on a break for a 4-0 Okaw lead.
Atwood scored on an outside shot, but Robinson scored again coming off a pick by Nichols, 6-2. Atwood missed their next shot and Robinson brought it strong to the hole along the base line and was fouled. She buried both shots, 8-2 Okaw with 2:09 in the 1st period.
Atwood scored on an inbound base line jumper, 8-4. No matter. Robinson used another pick to launch a jumper from the wing, swish, 10-4 Okaw with 1:35 in the 1st. Atwood scored in thhe post, 10-6, then blocked an Okaw shot.
Robinson dished inside to Grace Harlin cuttng into the middle. She drew the foul and went to the line, snapping the net with both shots, 12-6 Okaw. Hannah Wallen split a pair at the line for Atwood and Okaw led 12-7 after one.
The 2nd started with two Okaw turnovers and Atwood hitting a long two, 12-9. Atwood scored off a missed free throw, 12-11. Okaw coach Wade Burch called time. Robinson stole another ball, but couldn't convert.
Harlin drew another foul and although she missed her foul shots drawing fouls would take its toll on Atwood. Atwood scored again on an inbound play and claimed the lead, 13-12 with 2:50 left in the half.
Harlin drove again and drew a foul, but it was not called. Robinson snatched another balland was fouled on the break, making 1-of-2 shots, knottnig the score, 13-13 with 2:20 in the half.
Atwood answered with another long two, for a 15-13 lead with 2:05 in the half. Harlin drew another foul, then Robinson was fouled in transition, making 1-of-2, 15-14 Atwood with a minute in the half.
Atwood had a couple of misses inside, Robinson had the ball at the Okaw point, used a crossover to getseparation then buried a jumper with 25 seconds in the half, 16-15 Okaw.
Okaw defense turned the ball over, with 18 seconds left, but Atwood answered with a blocked shot. An Okaw trap kept Atwood from getting a shot off before the half-time buzzer.
Atwood scored in transition, taking the lead, 17-16. Robinson responded driving the lane for two and the Okaw lead, 18-17.
Harlin drove and drew another foul. Atwood scored on a loose ball near the basket and reclaimed the lead, 19-18 with 2:20 in the 3rd. Defense limited offense for more than a minute, before Wallen scored on put back of a baseline miss, 21-18.
But Jeffers used a crossover to get room for a short jumper, 21-20. Beckey West was fouled on an offensive rebound and made 1-of-2 free throws to tie the score again, 21-21 with 26 seconds in the 3rd. Wallen drove and dished inside for two for an Atwood lead, 23-21, precipitating an Okaw time-out with :7 seconds in the period. Okaw got off a long shot before the buzzer, but missed.
Atwood held a 2-point lead to start the 4th, 23-21. After a minute, Callie Schable made a free throe to get their lead back to three points, 24-21. Atwood drew another rebounding foul and Schable made 1-of-2 again for the largest Atwood lead of the game, 25-21 with 4:45 to play in the game.
Wide open play ensued over the next 1:30. Wallen was all over the flooor and Liz Shipman had a steal. But with 3:00 to play Shipman, Atwood's leading scorer with 10 points, fouled out. Harlin's drawing fouls paid off and Atwood's offense was crippled.
Harlin got a steal and got it to Robinson. She was fouled and sank both free throws to make it a 2-point game with 2:45 to play, 25-23 Atwood. Atwood missed two free throws, then Okaw missed two free throws.
Okaw started to press full court. Wallen was fouled in transition and made 1-of-2, 26-23. With 1:35 to play, Atwood missed, Robinson brought it in transition and missed, but scored on her own put it back, making it a 1-point game with 1:00 left, 26-25.
Without Shipman, Walken tried to dish and it went off a teammates hands and went out. With 52 seconds left, Robinson got the ball, brought it down the floor and drove right down Main Street for an Okaw lead with half a minute left in the game, 27-26.
Atwood missed two free throws. Robinson missed at Okaw's end and Atwood grabbed the rebound, but Becky West latched on to the ball and forced a jump ball, possession Okaw with 19 seconds left.
Robinson, the best Okaw foul shooter, had the ball in her hands, but gave it up and Okaw was caused for a travel with 9 seconds in the game. Atwood had to go the length of the floor, score or hope for a foul.
Wallen brought the ball down, but Jeffers picked her up defensively and Wallen dribbled the ball off her own knee. The ball rolled towards the sideline, but Wallen retrieved it. She was too far away to shoot, so she threw to a teammate.
Three Okaw defenders surrounded the ball and the Atwood player couldn't get a shot off before the buzzer and Okaw players rushed to their fans.
Okaw point guard Paige Robinson led all scorers with 18 points, scoring six times from the floor and making 6-of-8 free throws.
Shipman led Atwood with 10 points, all from the floor. Wallen and Courtney Williams both had six points for Atwood, while Natalie Jeffers had six points for Okaw.
Atwood out-scored Okaw from the floor 22-18. But Okaw out-scored Atwood from the line. Okaw made 9-of-20, while Atwood made just 4-of-12.
Okaw had the biggest lead of the game, six points. Atwood's biggest lead was four. During most of the game, the difference between the two teams was three points or less. Their were two ties and seven lead changes.
Okaw Valley Regional
Okaw Valley 27, Atwood 26
Okaw stats: Paige Robinson 18 (6 FG, 6/8 FTs), Natalie Jeffers 6 (3 FGs), Grace Harlin 2 (2/10 FTs), Bailey West 1 (1/2 FTs). Team FGs 9. Team FTs 9-of-20.
Atwood stats: Liz Shipman 10 (5 FGs), Hannah Wallen 6 (3 FGs, 2/4 FTs), Courtney Williams 6 (3 FGs, 0/2 FTs), Callie Schable 4 (FG, 2/4 FTs). Team FGs 11. Team FTs 4-of-12.