Whitten free-throws eke out Lady Titans win over Lady Alices

Daily Clarion archive/Lucas Whitten

Shayla Whitten in the Lady Titan season opener.

Vincennes Lincoln basketball girls are without their best player, but still an eye-opening Saturday night achievement for Gibson Southern girls.

“A very quality win,” Coach Mark Monroe said of the Lady Titans’ 45-44 come-from-behind win at Vincennes Lincoln, achieved when 5-foot-6 sophomore guard Shay Whitten made two free throws with 5.6 seconds left and finalized when the Lady Alices’ Chasity Trueblood missed a last-second three-point try that bounded off the back of the rim.

Having rebounded from a 76-40 season-opening loss to Castle, the Lady Titans will take a 1-1 record into Tuesday’s tripleheader at Evansville Reitz, where a 5 p.m. freshman game will precede the junior varsity and varsity matchups.

Though the Lady Alices are without senior guard Abi Haynes, who led the state in assists last season when they repeated as sectiional champions and reached the regional final, they are ranked No. 3 in Class 3A by the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association. They opened this campaign by beating Reitz 65-26 before losing 63-57 to Evansville North, whose Anna Newman will play for the University of Evansville.

Saturday’s result also is a measure of revenge. Vincennes Lincoln won 56-37 last November at Gibson Southern after prevailing 59-44 at home Nov. 14, 2015.

Saturday’s win came despite trailing 41-32 after three quarters. “It had been very close throughout, a four-point game with 30 seconds left in the third quarter. Then we had two turnovers that led tio five Vincennes points, including a three that beat the horn,” Monroe said.

“We didn’t do anything differently the fourth quarter in our pressing zone defense, but we picked up defensively and got a few deflections. They also missed a couple shots they’d made earlier.”

Five-eleven sophomore Meredith Raley, sister of Lady Titans career scforing leader and current Missouri Science & Technology starter Maddie Raley, kept her team close by scoring a game-high 20 points. After closing within 44-43 with two minutes left, they regained the ball by getting a defensive rebound. “That came with 50-or-so seconds or maybe a minute left,” Monroe said.

“After pretty much controlling the tempo all night, we ran clock and worked the ball to get a good last shot. We weren’t trying to get the ball to any particular player, just who had a good shot. Shay drove, got fouled in the act of shooting a layup and made both free throws to put us ahead.”

Vincennes Lincoln Coach Travis Connor, who called one time out after Whitten was fouled, called another after she converted the tie-breaking free throw. “They in-bounded, their second pass went to Trueblood, and two or three of our girls were chasing her. Her last-second shot came from the left wing, well beyond the arc,” Montoe said.

Just as Haynes is idled by an ACL tear, Whitten underwent surgery in summer for a leg break, an injury that put her on crutches a while. Saturday’s game-turning free throws marked her sixth and seventh points, incliuding a three-point basket. Five-six senior floor leader Skylar Boes scored six, juniors Tabitha Klem and Claire Jones five each with the 5-6 Jones hitting a three. “Like Shay, Tabitha has been with us since preseason practice began. But due to her meniscus tear she probably won’t be 100 percent for another month,” said Monroe, whose Lady Titans will follow their visit to Reitz with a Friday matchup at Princeton Commiunity.

Five-eleven freshman Maycee Lange led the Lady Alices with 10 points. The Lady Titans held 6-3 junior Lindsey Sparks, daughter of forrmer Lincoln and University of Evansville center Scott Sparks and granddaughter of former NBA player and junior college coaching icon Dan Sparks, to nine. And 6-1 junior Alison Hein, daughter of Lincoln athletic director and former boys coach Jeff Hein, to five. Five-seven senior guard Payton Sievers hit two threes en route to eight points.

“Our girls played very well together in beating a team that is more experienced and has more size,” said Monroe.

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Vincennes Lincoln jayvees, trailing 32-30 late the third quarter, went on a 22-6 tear and won 52-38. Kami Miller scored seven points, Kylie Osborne and Maci Foster six each and Kym Menke, daughter of Wood Memorial boys coach and former Gibson Southern standlout Kevin Menke, five as Lady Titan jayvees fell to a 1-1 record. Kali Haynes scored 16 for Vincennes Lincoln jayvees.

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Last Friday’s postponed Wood Memorial-at-Gibson Southern girls basketball doubleheader is rescheduled for Thursday, Jan. 25.

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