Group effort carries Greyhounds to regional championship

News-DemocratFebruary 14, 2014 

— Lebanon's "Band of Sisters" played like the close-knit group they've become.

The Greyhounds nearly had five players score in double figures as they beat the Gibault Hawks 62-47 Thursday in the championship game of the Class 1A Metro-East Lutheran Girls Basketball Regional.

"Every game that we've played, we've had two people have a great game," Lebanon coach Melody Evans said. "We talk about being the 'Band of Sisters' and tonight it was all of them. All of them came together, all of them played well. I'm proud of them. This is what we have been waiting for all year long. What a time to have it show up."

Lebanon junior Amber Milcarek said a former coach came up with the name "Band of Sisters" during her freshman year, and it became especially important to live up to that moniker this year after losing six seniors to graduation from last year's regional championship squad.

"(People) were saying that we weren't going to win and we were basically going to suck because we lost almost all of our starters, and we knew that as long as we play as a team, we can go further than we did last year," Milcarek said.

The Greyhounds made it to the sectional semifinals last year. They are going back again this year.

Lebanon (16-10) will play the winner of the Liberty Regional, either Liberty or Winchester, at 6 p.m. Monday in the semifinals of the Class 1A White Hall North Greene Sectional.

Liberty plays Winchester at 7 p.m. Friday.

"My husband (Frank) is the assistant coach, and he keeps talking about the long bus ride, the long bus ride," Evans said, referring to a trip to the Class 1A state tournament in Normal. "That's what we are working for. We think we can if we play a whole game, not just three quarters."

Ellie Krumsieg led the Greyhounds' balanced scoring line with 14 points. Casey Berberich and Milcarek each had 12 points, Kiera Wagner had 10 and Mallory Schmitt finished with nine.

Lauren Prader had 11 points to pace the Hawks (7-16), who made it to the championship game of the regional despite entering the postseason with a 6-15 record.

"We play a tough schedule, and it's not easy when you're 6-15 to stay strong throughout the year and then get to the regional championship," Gibault coach Brian Hart said. "I have to give it to the girls. They did a phenomenal job. I just wish we would have won this game, but we've come a long way. We definitely can build on this."

The Hawks also got eight points from Kendra Davis, Morgan Wiegand and Cierra Colbert and seven from Brittany Laurent.

The Hawks fell behind 10-0 at the start as they committed seven turnovers and missed their first seven shots.

The Greyhounds stretched their advantage to 28-12 on a steal and breakaway layup by Berberich with 32 seconds left in the first half.

The Greyhounds led by 23 points after a rebound basket by Schmitt late in the third quarter.

Colbert and Wiegand hit 3-pointers to trim the Greyhounds' lead to 46-28 by the end of the third quarter.

The Hawks kept coming, eventually closing the gap to nine points on a rebound basket by Laurent with 2:01 to go.

"Tell you what, they shot the ball well, they played well," Hart said. "We didn't have our best game today, but what we really liked was that didn't give up. We were down by (23), and we got back in by nine."

Berberich went 3-for-4 at the free-throw line to give the Greyhounds an 11-point cushion, and Krumsieg sealed the win with two baskets from underneath in the final 28 seconds.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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