Aurora Christian impresses in regional-opening win
While Aurora Christian's Lexi Lamanna and Thaya Luse talked about their team's 86-35 win in the Class 1A Harvest Christian regional semifinals Tuesday, a well-wisher walked by and told the two, "Good luck downstate."
Lamanna didn't hesitate.
"Thank you very much," she replied.
Of course Aurora Christian (26-4) still has four more wins to go before they are playing at ISU, but the Eagles sure looked like a state-caliber team in taking leads of 29-5 after the first quarter, 49-9 at halftime and 77-17 after three quarters against a Harvest Christian that entered the game 16-7.
And the Eagles, who don't start a single senior, sure don't lack confidence.
"There is some pressure but sometimes you just have to have confidence in yourself that you are going to be there and you are going to do it," Lamanna said. "I have trust in my teammates and hopefully they have trust in me. I think we're the best team in 1A and that might sound cocky but I'm confident we can go downstate and win."
The next step comes Thursday in the regional championship game against Indian Creek, who the Eagles have already beat twice this year, 70-37 and 67-40.
The 86 points Tuesday are a season-high for the state's No. 6 ranked Class 1A team.
"We wanted to prove something," Lamanna said. "We want to prove we're going to be state champions so we have to say something coming out in the first (postseason) game and I think we did that today."
Luse led a balanced attack with 22 points and 9 rebounds, Lamanna and Anna Griffin scored 17 and Aspen Weeks had 14.
"We were very unselfish and worked together and I think when we work together we're really unstoppable," Luse said.
The Lions tied the game once when Lauren Semerau scored inside to make it 2-2.
Aurora Christian scored the next 19 points, a run that began with a 3-pointer from Weeks, then six straight points from Griffin before Lamanna tallied eight in a row including a couple 3s and a steal and layup.
That was one of 7 steals for Lamanna. Griffin also played outstanding defense guarding Harvest Christian's Maddy Martin, who averages 22 points a game. Martin scored 13 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter once Griffin and her fellow starters were out of the game.
"I thought we were relentless defensively," Eagles coach Burney Wilkie said. "Anna on Martin was awesome. All year we have defended and pushed the ball up the floor. And when we are able to do that we are awfully tough to play with."
Harvest Christian finished the season 16-8 a year after only having six girls on the varsity. Numbers in the program and wins both went up.
"I am really happy with the effort and work the girls put in all season," Lions coach Jeremy Burke said. "We have increased numbers, committed ourselves to getting better each and every day. These girls are laying the foundation for great things to come here at Harvest. I am very proud of everything the girls and the team accomplished this year."