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Crestview advances to district

COLUMBIANA — The six-seeded Crestview Rebels took two-out-of-three in their series with LaBrae as they knocked off the eighth-seeded Vikings, 51-42, in a Division III sectional final Saturday. The two teams split their regular-season meetings as members of the MVAC.

The Rebels improve to 15-9 on the season and will play at the third-seeded Brookfield Warriors at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Rebels knocked off the Warriors twice during the regular season in league play.

“This was a really important win because this was our last game on this court as a senior, it’s crazy to think,” Rebels senior forward Payton Huff said. “They (LaBrae) are a very, very good team that we spilt with them during the regular season. I think the energy in the gym was so much better in this game. We knew it was a win or lose situation, so we were really ready for it.”

“There weren’t any real surprises, we knew their personnel, and for the most part kind of knew what to expect,” Rebels coach Aaron Blatch said. “We talked about being the best version of ourselves, and we felt if we did that we would have a great opportunity. When I was just talking to Payton, she felt this was the best game we played all year. It’s definitely on the short list.”

“We knew it was going to be a close one, a real dog fight,” Vikings coach Mandy Rowe said. “The first game we controlled them pretty well defensively, and they didn’t shoot well. Last Saturday we played them here (at Crestview) and lost in overtime.”

In what was a see-saw battle, the Rebels utilized a key two-minute stretch to distance themselves and keep the Vikings from coming back. With the Vikings leading 32-31 with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, the Rebels Emily Hill hit a basket, followed by a three from Krista Perry at the buzzer to give the Rebels a 37-32 lead at the end of the period. The Rebels carried that momentum into the fourth quarter as Ashton Hughes converted a bucket and Huff followed with a three to boost the Rebel’s lead to 10-points at 42-32.

“That was big for us,” Huff said. “It really brought up the energy when we were down by one we were upset about it, but as soon as Krista hit that (three), it just changed the game completely.”

“In a career of a lot of big shots, I thought that was as big of a shot as she has ever hit,” Blatch said. “I thought that was just a huge moment for us. It gave us a lot of life.”

“We missed some offensive opportunities with some shots, and then they got a couple of baskets where we missed some defensive rotations,” Rowe said. “They shot the ball really well, while we had a lot of shots in and out. They are a good team.”

“Payton Huff, in today’s game, probably equaled her three-point total from her freshman, sophomore, and junior year combined,” Blatch said on her four three-pointers on the day. “It has been something that she has gotten more comfortable in as the year has gone on. This has not been something that has been natural to her, not in her comfort zone. I thought in this moment, her last game on her home floor, to be able to knock down four buckets in addition to all the other stuff she did I’m just extremely proud of how she stepped up today.”

The Vikings fought back in the final minutes as they cut the deficit down to six at 46-40 when Laura McCoy hit a jumper with just under two minutes left. But, Perry converted 5-of-6 free throws in the final 1:06 of the game to seal the victory for the Rebels.

“I thought today she (Perry) was really smart about giving the ball up when she had to, she has worked her whole career for this, to close these things out,” Blatch said. “And we have all the confidence in the world that she is going to be able to that.”

The Rebels held a 15-13 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 23-20 at the intermission. The two teams combined to be either tied or switch leads nine times up to the final minute of the third quarter when the Rebels pulled away.

The Vikings may schedule an additional game or two depending on the league opponent’s availability. If no one is available, they will have closed the season with an 8-8 overall record.

“We lose two seniors that have been with me for four years. They are four-year letter winners so there are some big shoes to fill,” Rowe said. “But I told the underclassmen that if they don’t like this feeling then we need to get in this offseason and work at it. It’s up to you. We’re putting the ball in their hands with what they want to do in the offseason. We’re going to try to get going again as soon as possible.”

LABRAE: 13-7-12-10-42

CRESTVIEW: 15-8-14-14-51

LABRAE SCORING: Laura McCoy 8-0-17, Briley Daniels 4-4-12, Jahnya Dorsey 1-0-2, Jenna Reppart 2-2-7, Lenox McConaughey 1-2-4, Alaydren Beck 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 16, 8-11: 42.

CRESTVIEW SCORING: Mara Halas 1-0-2, McKenna Schultz 1-0-2, Krista Perry 6-8-21, Payton Huff 5-0-14, Ashton Hughes 3-0-7, Emily Hill 1-1-3, Karsyn Moore 1-0-2, Emily Downey 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 18, 9-13: 51.

Three-point goals: LaBrae 2 (McCoy, Reppart, Crestview 6 (Huff 4, Perry, Hughes).

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