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High School Sports

February 27, 2011

NEVER ANY DOUBT: Jeffersonville girls earn first trip to state finals with overtime win over Carmel

Roland, Kinnaird lead Red Devils to 63-58 victory

SOUTHPORT — INDIANAPOLIS — Jeffersonville’s girls’ basketball team beat Carmel in overtime on Saturday at Southport High School in the Class 4A semistate. The 63-58 victory earned the Red Devils a spot in next Saturday’s Class 4A championship game at Fort Wayne’s Allen County War Memorial Coliseum against third-ranked Penn (23-1), which defeated McCutcheon in the Warsaw Semistate Saturday 62-43.

It’s a destination the No. 7 Red Devils (27-2) were certain they would reach.

Even when Carmel’s Blaire Langlois hit a 3-pointer at the fourth-quarter buzzer — her third in the final 19 seconds — to send the Greyhounds and Devils into overtime, Jeff never doubted it would eventually be semistate champions.

Brooklyn Kinnaird hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 32 seconds and Jeff scored the extra session’s final seven points for Jeff’s first-ever semistate title.

“We were like, we can do this. We can win this game,” said Jeff junior Lakin Roland, whose missed free throw with 7.5 seconds left kept the door open for Langlois’ heroics. “Everyone was like, ‘Keep your head up. We’re going to win this game.’”

“We were going to win,” senior point guard Jamice Williams said. “No matter what, we were coming out winners today. We knew we were going to win.”

“I was thinking we get to play four more minutes,” senior center Brooke Valentine said. “Four more minutes of fun. That’s all it was.”

In fact, the only Red Devil who seemed at all flustered by Langlois’ barrage was Red Devils coach Chad Gilbert.

“I felt my heart go through my mouth,” Gilbert admitted.  

Carmel’s J.J. Williams made two free throws 29 seconds into the overtime. It was the last points the Greyhounds (22-6) would score this season.

Trailing 58-56, Roland made the biggest shot of the season. She knocked down Jeff’s only 3-pointer of the contest with 2:31 remaining and the Red Devils never trailed again.

“I felt it. I knew I was going to knock it down,” Roland admitted.

“That was a big shot. It gave us momentum,” Williams said. “That’s what she does. She hits big shots.”

Roland led Jeff with 25 points and also had seven rebounds. She scored 10 of her points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“She’s an outstanding player,” Gilbert praised. “Lakin wants the ball and she’s hard to handle.”

“You can trust Lakin, no matter how much time is on the clock, what the situation is,” Valentine said. “I’m not surprised at all that she did it.”

Carmel led the entire first half behind 11 first-half points from Purdue recruit Torrie Thornton.  

Jeff took its first lead with 3:33 left in the third quarter when Valentine hit a layup on a lob pass from Williams to make it 36-35. However, Thornton scored four straight points and the Greyhounds led 39-37 heading into the final period.

Early in the fourth quarter, a Langlois 3 gave Carmel a 42-37 lead. That’s when Gilbert decided to increase the pressure on the Greyhounds by switching from zone defense to man-to-man. Jeff responded by scoring the next six points to take a 45-44 lead.  

“We wanted to pick up the pace a little bit,” Gilbert said. “We stepped up and made the plays when they counted.”

After one free throw by J.J. Williams tied the score, a Jalynn McClain layup and two Kinnaird free throws gave Jeff its biggest lead at 49-45 with 1:22 remaining.

Two more free throws, this time by Jamice Williams, gave the Red Devils a 53-47 advantage. Jeff made its first 13 free throws of the fourth quarter and finished 13-of-14. For the game, the Red Devils made 30 of their 38 free-throw attempts.

“I felt free throws cost us a trip up here last year,” Gilbert said, referencing to his team’s 50-47 loss to Floyd Central in last season’s sectional semifinal. “The kids stepped up with hard work and dedication. They stepped up and made them when it counted.”

“That’s what won it tonight,” Jamice Williams said. “That’s what we’ve focused on for a while. Coach knows what he’s talking about when he says we need to make our free throws, and we’re going to need to hit them next week.”

Valentine earned another double-double with 10 points and 11 boards. McClain scored 12 points, Jamice Williams finished with six points and four assists, and Kinnaird had 10 points, including 6-of-8 from the line, and three assists.  

In the losing effort, Langlois finished with 25 points and Thornton scored 18 before fouling out with 53.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

The Red Devils’ confidence hasn’t waned. They believe, like they did heading into overtime, that beating Penn for the state championship next Saturday is a foregone conclusion.  

“I told (everyone) from the start of the season, we were going to win it all,” Valentine said. “We’re going to win it.”

“We’re going to win a state title,” Roland said. “I’m confident of that.”

“We’re excited. We did what we’re supposed to do,” Gilbert said. “We still have one more game to take care of. Next week won’t be an easy game.”

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