In January, Lebanon senior Kendra Bass was believed to be lost for the season with an injury to her right knee.
Instead, Bass was on the floor Thursday night leading the Greyhounds to their biggest victory of the season, a hard-fought 50-46 decision against Okawville in the championship game of the Class 1A White Hall-North Greene Sectional.
Bass scored a game-high 17 points as Lebanon advanced to its first super-sectional in school history.
"She has a Grade I tear. When she first did it, (doctors) said, 'Absolutely not,'" Lebanon coach Chad Cruthis said of the likelihood that Bass would return. "Then when she went (to an appointment) last Thursday, and the doctor said, 'You're stronger than I ever thought you would be in four weeks. If we brace it, I'll clear you.'
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"She's probably playing at about 70 percent physically, but you don't underestimate her as a player. She makes up for that other 30 percent mentally in what she does and the toughness she has. She made a couple of big buckets tonight at times when we really needed them. ... She found a way, but it's because her teammates helped her. If she had two good legs, maybe she would have had 34."
The Greyhounds (30-1) will meet Lewiston (29-4) in the Brown County Super-Sectional at 7 p.m. Monday in Mount Sterling. Lewiston defeated Princeton 45-42 in the title game of the Bushnell-Prairie City Sectional.
"A couple of their losses have been against (Class) 2A schools," said Cruthis, whose dad, Merv, is a volunteer assistant coach with the Greyhounds who will be matched up against Lewiston assistant Dick Well. Merv Cruthis was Well's assistant when Well was the head coach at Piasa Southwestern in the late-1960s.
"We went to his 80th birthday party this past fall," Chad Cruthis said of Well. "It will be neat to see my dad and (Well) opposing each other so many years later."
Lebanon tripped Okawville (23-9) for the second time this season. The teams also met Jan. 4 in Okawville, where the Greyhounds won 38-31.
"It speaks volumes for this group of girls," said Cruthis, whose team was 15 of 19 from the free-throw line. "It's sad to have to play against Okawville, because I respect (Okawville coach) Michelle (Hasheider-Burianek) so much. Our teams have battled since junior-high when our girls beat them in the state tournament there. I can honestly say it's not the team we wanted to face tonight, but I was really proud of our girls."
The Rockets trailed just 45-44 with 34 seconds to play. But Lebanon junior Emily Reinneck made two free throws with 19 seconds to play before Bass clinched the outcome by sinking one of two attempts from the line to make it 48-44 with 11 seconds remaining.
Reinneck eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in her career. Kendra Bass and twin sister Krista also are over 1,000 points in their careers.
"How many teams have three 1,000-point scorers on the team at the same time?" Cruthis said. "That says a lot for our team as far as why I think we're a hard team to play. On any given night, anybody can lead us in scoring."
Reinneck finished with 11 points, while Krista Bass had 10 and junior Abigail Reinneck had eight.
The game was tied at 17 at halftime.
The 5-foot-5 Kendra Bass, a four-year starter and all-state selection last year, injured her knee Jan. 18 in a 62-14 victory at Dupo. She played sparingly Jan. 30 in a 68-21 win over visiting Valmeyer, but was then sidelined until Monday when she had four points in a 55-35 triumph over Carrollton in the sectional semifinals.
Bass was the New-Democrat's Small-School Player of the Year as a junior when she averaged 16.8 points, 2.4 assists and 4.5 steals.