Girls Basketball

Behind Bass and her miracle recovery, Lebanon girls are headed to first state tournament

Kendra Bass thought she had played her last game at Lebanon High School.

But with the IHSA postseason looming and just one blemish on the Greyhounds' record, she asked her doctor to give the torn ligament in her right leg one more examination. Two weeks later — heavily armored with braces both on her knee and the shoulder that was repaired last season — Bass led the Greyhounds to their first IHSA Class 1A State Tournament berth.

The Lebanon senior guard poured in 26 points and pulled down five rebounds in a 59-32 win over Lewistown at the Mount Sterling Super-Sectional on Monday.

"I told the doctor we had a good chance at going to state and is there anyway you can take a look?" she said from a purple scrum on the Brown County High School court. "He said he was really happy with how I had healed and my flexibility, so he said OK.

"I'm glad I asked."

The Greyhounds (31-1) will play Danville Schlarman at Illinois State University Redbird Arena in the state semifinals Friday at 1 p.m.

Bass, a four-year starter and second-team all-state pick as a junior, tore the PCL in her right knee in the first quarter of a Jan. 18 game against Dupo. She was told her season was over.

Coach Chad Cruthis joked with her after a recent practice that she should ask the doctor to take another look, but he wasn't really expecting a miracle.

"We talked about it that it would be great if she would be able to play and I think everybody in Lebanon kept praying and praying for it," Cruthis said. "When she called me that morning and said 'Hey, the doc said I can play,' I almost fell out of my chair."

Lebanon went a combined 53-6 the last two seasons, only to fall to Hardin-Calhoun in the semifinals of the sectional tournament in consecutive years.. The Greyhounds won their first ever sectional game over Carrollton, then nipped Okawville for their first sectional championship in girls basketball.

Cruthis said the foundation for this season was laid by Lebanon Junior High Coach Kerry Allen, who led them to a state title as eighth graders. Allen died of cancer in April 2015.

"This feels better than I ever thought it could," he said. "I didn't know if I would ever get here in my coaching career, but you've got to have the players. I wasn't given the keys to a Pinto. I was given the keys to a '69 Chevy Camaro that just had a little body work and needed a little sprucing up."

The Greyhounds dominated Lewistown early Monday night, opening a 22-5 lead midway through the third quarter. Lewistown shot just 11 for 43 in the game (25.5 percent) and had just four field goals — including Anna Heffren's off-balance buzzer beater — in the first half.

Lebanon 6-1 senior Madison Schoenfeld didn't give the Lady Indians many second chances, pulling down eight of her game-high 12 rebounds before the intermission. She also scored eight points.

"That was the thing we talked about with her being 6-1 and their next biggest player being 5-10, she needs to touch the ball almost every time down the floor just so they have to respect where she is," Cruthis said. "Her cleaning up the missed shots and getting the stickbacks ... we don't get here without her."

The Greyhounds also forced 16 Lewistown turnovers, led by guard Krista Bass, who pitched in 16 points, many on breakaways after a steal. Her sister, Kendra, opened the Greyhound lead to 20 in the fourth quarter with her fourth 3-pointer of the game.

Lebanon shot 19 for 39 from the field (48.7 percent) and outrebounded Lewistown 30-24.