Aurora Christian continues history-making season
GRANVILLE -- The Aurora Christian girls basketball team checked winning a sectional title off the to-do list Thursday.
Led by 6-foot-1 junior Anna Griffin's 29 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks and a 13-point, 12-rebound performance from 5-8 sophomore Thaya Luse, Aurora Christian eased past Gardner-South Wilmington 62-29 in the Class 1A Putnam County sectional title game at R.M Germano Gymnasium.
The sectional championship is the first for the Aurora Christian girls basketball program, founded in 1993.
"To finally put a banner up in a gym that is named after Don Davidson, my high school basketball coach, means an awful lot to me," sixth-year Aurora Christian coach Burney Wilkie said. "This isn't the goal, though. The goal is the state championship. We've known what we wanted to do and that's the goal. The goal is state."
The Eagles advance to the Class 1A Pontiac supersectional on Monday at 7 p.m. They will face Salt Fork (22-12), a 38-33 winner against Decatur St. Teresa in Champaign Thursday.
"It's really awesome and amazing to be able to do it with this team," Luse said of the Elite Eight berth. "They're a bunch of great girls. I'm blessed to be able to do this with them."
Aurora Christian (29-4) was the more athletic, physical team from the start. In the first half alone the Eagles won the rebounding battle 22-8 and forced 12 turnovers by Gardner-South Wilmington (28-5) while committing 8.
Griffin extended her single-season school scoring record to 580 points. A skilled player with 16 Division-I offers already, she scored 10 first-quarter points to stake the Eagles to a 20-10 lead.
Griffin proceeded to score the first 8 points of the second quarter on two putbacks sandwiched around consecutive back-to-the-basket post ups.
"They had no bigs, so I feel like the goal was for me to like, you know, just kind of dominate down low and that's what I did," Griffin said. "As the game went on and on and we started to expand a little bit, that was the time for me to start utilizing my teammates and passing the ball. I felt like everybody got open."
The longer Eagles used their wingspans to outrebound the Panthers 32-18. Aurora Christian led 39-12 at halftime and 51-25 through three quarters.
"I found myself overwhelmed a little bit as to what game plan to even tell them to do after one timeout and two timeouts," G-SW coach Adam Leigh said. "I mean, there was just no answer. Clearly, they are just more athletic and quicker than us. Well deserved for them. They clearly deserved it."
Gardner-South Wilmington junior Abby Beck led the Lady Panthers with 8 points on 3-of-13 shooting. Senior Kaitlynn Kavanaugh added 7 points.
Freshman guard Aspen Weeks scored 8 points, sophomore Lexi Lamanna contributed 7 points and 3 steals and freshman Mya Gardner hauled down 6 rebounds for the Eagles.