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A heartbreaker

Waldron senior Victoria Shaw (right) hugs a teammate after coming out of the game on Monday during the Sectional 60 title contest.

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

Jac-Cen-Del traveled home with the trophy but there were no losers Monday in Waldron.

In a game that lasted nearly three hours, including nine periods and 52 minutes of game play, No. 6 Jac-Cen-Del and No. 9 Waldron went down to the wire, again, again and again, in the longest girls’ tournament game in IHSAA history.

Neither team deserved to lose but the Eagles would survive 67-61 in a five-overtime classic for the Sectional 60 title.

Tied at 31 at the end of four quarters of play, Jac-Cen-Del and Waldron traded punches for five exhausting — but highly entertaining — overtime periods before the Eagles would finally pull away. Waldron, which received a boost from its bench after regulation, eventually ran out of gas in arguably the greatest high school tournament game ever played in Indiana.

Considering the circumstances — a sectional title up for grabs — it would be hard to image a better atmosphere. The bands were rocking. The fans and cheerleaders were loud. And the game featuring two ranked teams exceeded the hype — and then some. Simply put: It was a night those in attendance will probably never forget — a night the seniors, the coaching staff and all those involved will be talking about years from now.

“Monday wasn’t about basketball, it was about character and kids,” said WHS head coach Anthony Thomas. “Those kids gave everything they had for 52 minutes. It was a historic game, so many things happened.

"I wanted it so bad for (my team). My heart breaks for them. It is a feeling that is going to be with me for a long time.”

Jac-Cen-Del head coach Scott Smith, who has 323 career wins to his name, said both teams left everything they had on the court Monday. The Eagles claimed their 11th consecutive sectional title.

“It is something both schools will be telling grandkids about,” Smith said. “I can’t say enough about the Waldron kids and the Waldron coaching staff. Everytime I thought we had them down, they came back. At the same time, when I thought we were down, we came back. 

“When I helped our boys program 20 years ago or so, we had a five-overtime game during the regular season. That was incredibly draining. This, though, has to go down as one of the greatest tournament games ever.”

In a gutsy performance, Waldron senior forward Victoria Shaw emerged from the locker room with her knee wrapped after a nasty fall in the second quarter (6:37) and led the Mohawks in scoring with 24 points. Limping off the court with the help of two other individuals, it did not appear Shaw would return for the second half.

With her team trailing 18-13 at halftime, Shaw did return and scored six points and secured several key rebounds in the third and fourth quarters as the Mohawks clawed back to tie the game before the end of regulation.

“In the locker room, she said she was playing,” Thomas said of Shaw. “That is kind of the epitome of what our senior class is.”

Then came the first overtime. Both teams managed to score five points but neither squad was able to pull away as the quarter ended in a 36-36 tie.

From that point, foul trouble began to surface for the Mohawks.

Waldron senior guard Morgan Wood, the program’s all-time scoring leader, fouled out in the second overtime. Next was senior starter Hannah Sullivan, who was defending JCD leading scorer Mariah Day, a senior guard. WHS freshmen Bella Larrison and Megan Bogemann checked in and performed like veterans in an intimidating environment, however, to give the Mohawks life.

Larrison, who did not have a shot attempt in the game, came in for Wood in the second overtime and drained a 3-pointer at the top of the key before the buzzer, which tied the game at 43-all. After a big gasp of air from all those in attendance, the game would head to a third overtime.

“Those freshmen came in and hit big shots,” Thomas said. “I am not sure what else you can ask for.”

In the third OT, both teams went cold and only managed two points before going into another extra period with the score tied, 45-45.

Waldron sophomore guard Lauryn Thomas, who finished the evening with 12 points, came up with a steal at the end of the fourth overtime period with the Mohawks down one point, 53-52. After a scramble near the middle of the floor, L. Thomas grabbed the loose ball and was fouled on her ensuing layup. She would hit 1 of 2 shots at the line to send the game to another four-minute period with the score at 53-53.

Bogemann, who has played limited minutes this season, hit a three in the fourth overtime and finished the game with eight points. 

In the final period of play, Jac-Cen-Del was finally able to get a two-possession lead late in the frame, something both teams struggled to do for five extra periods, and held on for the win. Day was 4 of 4 at the line in the fifth overtime, which helped JCD improve to 21-5 this season.

Day, who did not register a field goal until the third quarter, scored a team-high 22 points in the win. She was 16 of 18 at the foul line to help her team finished 32 of 42 overall. JCD sophomore forward Paige Ledford added 19 points and junior forward Regan Carroll finished with 10.

WHS finished the game 11 of 20 at the foul line. 

Both the Mohawks and Eagles entered Monday’s title tilt on multiple-game win streaks and were peaking at the right time. Unfortunately, one team’s season had to come to an end.

And saying Coach Thomas is proud of his team (16-7), a team that won five games two seasons ago, would not be giving this group justice. Among many things, they are winners in his book.

“We came up short on the scoreboard but they are definitely not losers,” Thomas said.

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.

Sectional 60 Championship

Final Score: Jac-Cen-Del 67, Waldron 61 (5OT)

Player of Game: WHS senior Victoria Shaw, 24 pts