NEW ATHENS — Sandoval coach Brenda Kunick admitted she didn't have an in-depth scouting report on the Okawville Rockets before their Class 1A regional semifinal Wednesday at New Athens High School.
"We don't play them and so all I really knew was what I read about them on Maxpreps.com,'' Kunick said. "All I could find out was that they shot 3s and we could play zone against them.''
That knowledge proved to be enough as junior guard Bethany Kunick scored 15 points and three Sandoval teammates added nine points apiece as the Hawks moved into the title game with a 47-41 win.
Trailing 16-11 with under three minutes left in the opening half, Sandoval scored seven of the final 10 points to cut its deficit to a point at intermission.
A pair of 3-point baskets by junior forward Haleigh Day along with an offensive putback by Jordy Bradley to start the third quarter gave the Lady Hawks a 26-19 lead.
The cold-shooting Rockets would get no closer the rest of the night.
The win lifts Sandoval (13-5) into the title game at 7 p.m. on Friday, against host and top-seed New Athens.
The Lady Jackets trounced Marissa 53-12 in the other semifinal Wednesday.
With the 5-foot-2 Day giving her team a lift with nine points off the bench, it offset an early exit from Bethany Kunick who fouled out with 3:56 left in the game.
"I put her back in the game with just over four minutes left and she picked up the fifth one a few seconds later. Yes, the last 3:56 seemed to go on forever,'' Brenda Kunick said of her daughter's early exit. "We had some girls step up and we made the plays when we needed too.''
Senior Allison Koch had 14 points for Okawville (7-18) which couldn't get any offense going after the first 12 minutes of the game.
"We just couldn't make a shot. How many times did we have shots go in and out on us tonight?'' Okawville coach Michelle Hasheider-Burianek said. "We also didn't do a very good job of attacking their zone defense.
"Sandoval just outplayed us tonight. I hope they go a long way.''
New Athens 53, Marissa 12
Moving one step closer toward the first regional title in school history, the Yellow Jackets made life miserable for their league rivals with the 41-point win.
Using relentless full-court pressure for the first three quarters, New Athens (22-2) forced 27 turnovers and rolled to the easy semifinal victory.
Beaten twice by New Athens during the regular season, the Meteors trailed just 16-7 after one period. But with the Yellow Jackets using a patient offensive attack and dominating in every phase of the game, Marissa managed just five points over the final three quarters.
"That's been our strength all year. We're able to put pressure on teams and get some transition baskets off the press. I thought we let them (Marissa) get around us a little too easily at times in the first three quarters, but giving up just five point the rest of the night, we did a good job after that,'' New Athens coach Erik Hager said. "We didn't shoot the ball that well and we didn't finish that well early. But you can't be unhappy with a 41 point win.''
Sophomore Alina Lance scored eight of her game-high 19 points in the first quarter for New Athens.
But for Marissa coach Dan Lehman it was a long night.
"They are long, big and athletic up front and we knew their pressure would give us some problems,'' Lehman said. "It's just like I told the girls, sometimes its not what you do some nights as much as much as what the opponent allows you to do. New Athens is a good basketball team.''