By DAVE HANNEMAN
OTTAWA — Jenna Herr made her dad proud Wednesday night.
And a bunch of McComb basketball fans were pretty happy about that as well.
Herr scored 18 points, including two free throws with 5.2 seconds to play that gave McComb a 3-point lead, then tipped away a final pass by Patrick Henry as the Panthers edged the Patriots 57-54 in one of two Division IV girls basketball sectional semifinals played at Ottawa-Glandorf’s Robert J. Hermiller Gymasium.
“I probably ride my daughter harder than anybody else,” said Jeremy Herr, Jenna’s father and McComb’s head coach.
“But those two free throws at the end were clutch, and then that tipped ball … It was just her night tonight. This was by far her best game of the season and what a time to do it.”
Fifty-seven seemed to be the number to reach Wednesday night. Pandora-Gilboa reached that total as well, but the Rockets had an easier time of it in defeating Van Buren 57-34 in the second semifinal. That win sets up a Blanchard Valley Conference rematch between McComb (12-11) and P-G (15-8) at 8 p.m. Saturday at O-G. The winner will advance to the Division IV girls district semifinal next Thursday at Lima Senior.
McComb also got an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double from senior standout Emily Clymer and 10 points, six key rebounds and lock-down defense from senior guard Brenna Dee.
Kristin Bostelman scored 15 points and Bailey Brown added 10 for Patrick Henry, which ends its season at 7-16.
McComb led 18-6 late in the first quarter, but Patrick Henry, trying to wear down a thin McComb roster with waves of depth and pressure defense, clawed back to tie the game 30-30 at the half.
“We got a little sloppy, we had some turnovers against their press, we broke down defensively a little bit and they got some buckets,” Jeremy Herr said.
“They got it back to even at the half, and I knew it was going to be a battle. The key, I think, was we could not get Nora (Hemminger) that fourth foul early in the second half. We needed her on the floor, for her quickness especially.”
Hemminger, one of two freshmen in the McComb starting lineup, picked up two fouls in the first four minutes of the game. She got her third personal in the third quarter, but was able to contribute two quick baskets, and seven points overall, after Patrick Henry had taken its first lead of the game, 33-32.
McComb pushed the lead to seven points (40-33), but Patrick Henry rallied, with Courtney Rosebrook and Brown scoring four points each during in an 11-4 run that turned that deficit into a 51-46 lead with just over three minutes left.
Clymer completed a 3-point play, though, and Hemminger stole a pass and fed Dee for a layup that tied it 51-51.
“Emily Clymer is a really good player and we did not defend her the way you’re supposed to,” said first-year Patrick Henry coach Kyle Tietje.
“We were on the wrong shoulder, she got it inside and completed the 3-point play. That was a huge momentum swing. It killed any momentum we’d just got from our 5-0 run.”
In a bizarre turn of events, Patrick Henry inbounded the ball to Bostelman, but she turned her ankle, the ball rolled free as she went to the floor and Herr took it in for an easy layup.
Clymer would convert 2 of 4 free throws and Herr knocked in her final two to keep McComb on top the rest of the way.
The injury to Bostelman was one of three game-stopping injuries that turned out to be the last thing Tietje and the Patriots needed at the time.
“Those free time outs allowed them to gather themselves,” Tietje said.
“We called our game plan the ‘wear-them-down’ factor. McComb doesn’t have a lot of players (8 in uniform). We wanted to be in attack mode offensively and defensively. We were hoping our press could beat them down. If we could get them tired they’d get lazy on defense. Everybody does.
“They caught some breaks with those free time outs. But there were things we could have done earlier in the game as well.”
Pandora-Gilboa led Van Buren just 12-10 in the second game, but Megan Maag converted an offensive rebound at the buzzer, the Rockets doubled up the Knights 14-7 in the second period and P-G was in control the rest of the way.
Maag had a double-double for P-G, scoring 25 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Olivia Maag added 13 points and Hunter Hermiller nine. Van Buren (4-17) got nine points from Rachel Wymer and Niki Miller and eight points and 11 rebounds from Paige Sudlow.
While P-G’s offensive numbders were good (3 of 8 on 3′s, 24 of 51 overall shooting) it was defense that underscored the Rockets’ win. Van Buren found it hard to get good looks all night, making 6 of 14 3′s, but only 11 of 35 shots overall. Pandora-Gilboa also forced 23 turnovers and outrebounded the Knights 42-22.
“Defense is one thing we really keyed on at the half. We wanted to make them (Van Buren) feel frustrated,” P-G coach Jessica Liedtke said after the Rockets assured themselves of a second straight 15-win season.
“I’ve really emphasized defense in the program and the girls have been picking up on that. They know that if they take one play off defensively, they’ll be taking the next one off, too, because they’ll be sitting beside me on the bench.”
PATRICK HENRY (7-16)
Bostelman 6-3–15, Nye 1-0–2, Brown 3-4–10, Gibson 2-0–4, Wagner 3-0–7, Imbrock 1-2–4, Prigge 3-0–8, Rosebrook 2-0–4. TOTALS: 21-64 9-18–54.
Hemminger 3-1–7, Dee 5-2-12, Clymer 7-4–18, Herr 8-2–18, Reigle 1-0–2. TOTALS: 24-57 9-17–57.
Patrick Henry 11 19 11 13 — 54
McComb 20 10 12 15 — 57
3-Point GOALS: Patrick Henry 3-12 (Prigge 2, Wagner); McComb 0-4.
rebounds: Patrick Henry 26 (Bostelman & Brown 5); McComb 31 (Clymer 9).
turnovers: Patrick Henry 15; McComb 23.
McCullough 2-0–4, Hermiller 4-1–9, O. Maag 5-1–13, M. Maag 12-1–25, Watkins 1-1–4, Abelovska 1-0–2. TOTALS: 25-52 4-11–57.
VAN BUREN (4-17)
Endicott 1-2–4, Miller 3-1–9, Wymer 3-0–9, Lasley 0-1–1, Hassan 1-0–3, Sudlow 3-2–8. TOTALS: 9-35 6-10–42.
Pandora-Gilboa 14 14 14 15 — 57
Van Buren 10 7 10 7 — 34
3-Point GOALS: Pandora-Gilboa 3-7 (O. Maag 2, Watkins); Van Buren 6-12 (Wymer 3, Miller 2, Hassan).
rebounds: Pandora-Gilboa 34 (M. Maag 13); Van Buren 17 (Sudlow 7).
turnovers: Pandora-Gilboa 15; Van Buren 23.
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