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Lanesville overcomes loss of top scorer to win second straight title

Rich Torres, Special to
Posted: February 24, 2024
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Photo Credit: Double Edge Media @demllc

INDIANAPOLIS – A season defined by their fortitude became the defending state champion Lanesville Eagles’ greatest asset on Saturday morning.

Tested throughout the year by the absence and in-season reemergence of junior center Shelby Allen, who suffered a knee injury last spring, the top-ranked Eagles were dealt another heartbreaking blow late in the first quarter during the IHSAA Class 1A State Finals in Indianapolis.

However, instead of letting the setback crush their repeat hopes, the Eagles (29-1) banded together to overcome 11 lead changes and five ties to defeat fifth-ranked Marquette Catholic, 51-43, and become the first back-to-back Class 1A champion since 2019.

Up 11-10 against Marquette Catholic (24-5) inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Lanesville guard Hadley Crosier, a projected Indiana Junior All-Star, pivoted under the basket and immediately dropped to the court, screaming out in pain and holding her right knee.

Crosier, the team’s leading scorer, had four points, two assists and two steals before being helped off the court with 1 minute, 27 seconds left in the first quarter.

The shock hit the Eagles’ sideline, but with Allen’s injury and other adversities already dealt with this season, Lanesville adjusted quickly, as Crosier cheered on her team from the bench while wiping tears from her eyes and crutches nearby.

“The kind of team that we have, you just saw up there. They have faced adversity this entire year,” Lanesville head coach Angie Hinton said.

“Our message in the locker room at halftime was that you faced adversity all year long. This is just one more day. I had confidence in these kids.”

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Lanesville's Hylton Brumley shoots a three-pointer (Photo credit: Double Edge Media @demllc).

The Eagles led 27-26 by halftime following a pair of first half ties. The Marquette Catholic Blazers (24-5) jumped out fast with a 9-3 run to start the game behind three consecutive 3-pointers by freshman Marissa Pleasant, who finished with 13 points on 4 of 9 shooting.

A Crosier layup cut into the early deficit, 9-5, before Allen took control in the paint en route to a game-high 20 points and seven rebounds.

Allen was sidelined this season until mid-December with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but the 6-foot-1 big returned to compete in 16 games prior to the State Finals.

With Crosier out the remainder of the title game, Allen hit her stride, while the Lanesville defense found a way to disrupt the Blazers, which won the rebounding battle 41-21 but lost the turnover tussle 24-9.

“I thought we were in it. It was a one-possession game for most of the game there, and I thought our kids battled hard,” Blazers head coach Katie Collignon said. “Just down the stretch, we had some costly turnovers, didn’t hit our shots and their free throws really helped them late. Those mistakes ended up in a situation where you’re down five and you can’t claw back with about a minute to go. I’m proud of my girls’ effort. They were tough and resilient as they always are, but I think this one stung a little bit more than we imagined.”

Sophomore Laniah Davis, who was averaging 20 points per game, struggled early on, but in the second quarter she scored 10 straight points to pull the margin within one possession entering halftime. She finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three steals.

By the end of the third quarter, the Blazers led 33-31, holding the Eagles scoreless from the field (0-for-8). A pair of foul shots by junior Hylton Brumley kept the Eagles from getting shut out, but in the fourth, a clutch 3-pointer by senior Emma Davis broke the game’s final tie, 38-35.

“We just knew we were all going to have to step up. Hadley’s really good with her jump shot. She’s real good getting to the basket, but we found other ways to score. Shelby inside, she’s a beast,” Brumley said. “We had to step up, state championship game. We weren’t going to lose it, and we were going to do everything we could.”

Crosier averaged 15.8 ppg for the Eagles this season, and defensively, Lanesville limited their opponents to 33.5 points allowed.

Marquette Catholic pulled within one possession of reclaiming the lead four times late in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles combination of Davis (5 points), Allen and Brumley (15 points), who shot 5 of 6 from the free-throw line in the final minute, cushioned their advantage.

The Blazers shot 44 percent in the first quarter and 50 percent in the second, but those numbers dipped to 25 and 31.3 percent in the second half due to Lanesville’s zone and Marquette Catholic’s mounting turnovers.

“It’s almost like we beat ourselves. Those possessions down the stretch. We didn’t finish,” Collignon said. “Those are the toughest losses to take. You think, if we hang on to that ball, don’t turn it over there, make that extra pass. What if? That’s the hardest thing to do at the end of the season. Not to say we were actually beaten, but we beat ourselves.”

The Blazers had three players in double figures, including junior Livia Balling with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

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Marquette's Marissa Pleasant (13) pulls in a rebound surrounded by teammates Brielle Jones (45) and Laniah Davis (4) (Double Edge Media @demllc).

Marquette Catholic was the last Class 1A team to repeat in 2018 and 2019. With Crosier out the last three quarters, the Blazers nearly prevented the Eagles repeat, but Lanesville found inspiration through experience.

“In practice every day, we compete against each other, and we give them so many things to do so that when an offense breaks down, they know how to go make a play,” Hinton said. “We certainly did make some plays, and even though Hadley wasn’t able to be on the floor, she has been that leader in practice every day. They had to go against her defense.

“Having to take her off the floor was losing a very important piece to everything we do on both ends of the court, but I just felt like those kids knew what to do. We just had to make some adjustments to let it work for them.”

The Eagles, in turn, worked together to secure their 13th straight state tournament victory, 57th win in 60 contests overall and third state championship in coach Hinton’s 18th season overall (sixth at Lanesville). Hinton led 4A New Albany to the state title in 1999.

“I don’t think a lot of people get to know when their last game is going to be, so to get to know that is unimaginable. But to be able to do it with us four (seniors) and the girls that we’ve been playing with for a long time means a lot to us four. Just to be able to finish with something this big and make history,” said Lanesville senior Ava Kerr, who had two points and six steals.

The key was composure, going 11 of 15 from the free-throw line in the second half and logging 19 total steals as a team.

“When Hadley went down that was a tough emotional situation for all of us. We had to be very careful as coaches how we handled that because I had to keep the confidence of my team because I really believed in my team,” Hinton said. “But then your heart is breaking for a kid on the bench. To have an injury like that was really, really tough. I had to really dig deep down to keep everything consistent, calm and cool. We’ve taken a lot of hits this year, but no bigger hit than we took today. But the kids stepped up.”

Crosier, who suffered a probable anterior cruciate ligament tear, hugged almost every Eagle after the final horn sounded.

“I was on the bench, and I started feeling sorry for myself, and I was like, these girls are doing this, and I can’t think about me because this is for everybody. This is our community,” Crosier said. “Yeah, I went down, and I probably won’t be back for a while, but these girls, I just couldn’t be any prouder.” 

Class 1A State Championship Records

Most Steals: (Tied) 19 by Lanesville vs. Marquette Catholic.

Lanesville's Ava Kerr earns Roy Mental Attitude Award

Following the game, members of the IHSAA Executive Committee named Ava Kerr of Lanesville Jr.-Sr. High School as the winner of the Patricia L. Roy Mental Attitude Award in Class 1A Girls Basketball.

The award is presented annually to a senior participant in each classification who was nominated by her principal and coach and has demonstrated excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability.

Ava carries a 3.8 GPA, serves as senior class president, president of the Student Council and is a member of the National Honor Society.

A four-year letterwinner in basketball and a starter the last two seasons, Ava also has been a four-year member of the Eagles' volleyball and softball teams.

She is the daughter of Christine and Kevin Kerr of Lanesville, IN and plans to attend Indiana University Southeast to study Nursing.

The Indiana Fever and Indiana Pacers, the presenting sponsors of the IHSAA Girls Basketball State Tournament, presented a $1,000 scholarship to the general scholarship fund at Lanesville Jr.-Sr. High School in the name of Ava Kerr.

The award is named in honor of the late former IHSAA assistant commissioner Patricia L. Roy, who oversaw the girls basketball state tournament from its inception in 1976 until her retirement in 1999.

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Ava Kerr of Lanesville was presented the Patricia L. Roy Mental Attitude Award by ALiyah Boston of the Indiana Fever (Photo credit: Double Edge Media @demllc).