The last time that the Oak Hill Golden Eagles and Frankton Eagle squared off against one another, the Golden Eagles handed the Eagles a 28-point defeat.
In the rematch on Saturday evening, in the regional final at Eastern High School, the Eagles, who are having their best season in recent memory, got their revenge.
Frankton’s Sydney Tucker and Destyne Knight each scored 20+ plus points, and the Golden Eagles took too long to get on track in a 68-58 loss.
With the win, Frankton will advance to the Logansport semi-state game next Saturday, where they will face off with the Central Noble Cougars.
At the beginning of the game, it seemed that the Golden Eagles were in control, as they built an early 8-2 lead – but the Eagles of Frankton had other plans.
After Oak Hill’s Kaela Robey scored to give the Golden Eagles a six-point lead, a three-pointer from Aleyah Rastetter sparked a 13-2 run that changed the outlook of the entire game. The Eagles hit two more three – courtesy of Rastetter and Sierra Southard – to take a 15-10 lead into the second quarter.
Oak Hill’s defense locked in the second quarter, but their offense could not get anything going until the end of the frame.
Trailing by five, Brittany McCorkle hit Oak Hill’s only triple of the contest, and Taylor Westgate scored at the buzzer to make it a 21-19 game.
Throughout the tournament, the Golden Eagles had used an effective full-court press to stifle their opponents’ offensive attack, as well as create offense for themselves in transition.
But from the onset on Saturday, Frankton gave Oak Hill a taste of their own medicine, as their defense gave the Oak Hill offense fits throughout the entire game.
“I felt like we were playing a little bit uptight,” head coach Todd Law said after the game. “We just never really calmed down until it was too late. I give Frankton a lot of credit. I thought their defensive pressure bothered us a little bit.”
Oak Hill’s offensive woes continued in the third quarter. Along with struggling to hit shots from the field, the Golden Eagles were unable to hit their free throws and cut into the Frankton lead. Tucker and Knight, after scoring just five and six points, respectively, in the first half, scored 15 combined points to help the Eagles build a 38-32 lead heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter came down to free throws, as both teams were in the double bonus early in the frame, and down the stretch, the Eagles delivered. In the final eight minutes, the Eagles made 17 their final 21 free throws, and led as many as 13 on three separate occasions, to secure the victory.
For the game, the Eagles shot 56 percent from the floor (18-of-32) and 78 percent from the line (26-of-33). The Golden Eagles, on the other hand, shot just 38 percent from the floor (21-of-55), 60 percent from the charity stripe (15-of-25), and knocked down six triples.
“It was a combination of things,” Law said. “They shot the ball from the three-point line really well in the first half. Those were daggers to us, and they helped them extend the lead. But I was really proud of how we bounced back. We battled back and got back to within two at the half, and I thought ‘Hey, we kind of survived a little bit,’ but we just struggled offensively all night.”
Frankton’s 68 points were the most that the Golden Eagles have given up in the last two seasons, and combined with the poor shooting from the floor and the free throw line, it was an ugly combination for Oak Hill in their final game of the season.
“When it comes down to it, we gave up 68 points, which is 30 over our average,” Law said. “It was just one of those nights where they outplayed us, and you are going to have that. I told them in the locker room to win seven games to win a state championship is extremely difficult, because you can’t have one night that’s a let up. We absolutely dominated this game in every statistical category except for field goal shooting and free throw shooting, and obviously you have to do that to win.”
The Golden Eagles’ season is over, and while they will be losing key contributors in Kristin Dubois and Auja Smith, both who were instrumental in last year’s state final run, many key players will be back on the roster next year. Westgate, who has grown immensely as a post presence in her second year, will be back. All-around star Jenessa Hasty will also be returning, along with Robey, Adrianna Trexler, and others.
All in all, the future continues to be bright for the Golden Eagles, and Coach Law knows it. Once the dust settles, he and his team will be gearing to go for next season.
“Obviously, we still have a lot to look forward too, but we have some work to get done to make sure we can be as good as we can to hopefully make another run.”