The South Putnam girls' basketball team will look to complete a three-peat Saturday.
With Jessica and Meghan Canary combining for 46 points, the Eagles advanced to the championship game of the Cascade Sectional Friday, defeating Tri-West, 52-48. With a win Saturday, South Putnam will pick up its third straight sectional title.
Jessica Canary led the Eagles with 26 points, hitting 9-of-18 field goals, while Meghan Canary scored 20 points, knocking down six field goals and 8-of-10 free throws. The two sisters nearly outscored the Bruins, displaying a soft touch from the charity stripe, hitting a combined 16-of-21 free throws in the contest.
The two sisters shined in the win.
However, South Putnam Coach Debbie Steffy was also pleased to see others get involved in the flow of the offense.
"It's a nice thing," she said. "But I thought that tonight we had some other people shoot the ball. They didn't have shots that went down, but they looked to drive. They looked to shoot. That's the thing that we talked about all week. If we only had two people that looked to shoot the basketball, we were going to struggle."
The Eagles started the game hot, applying defensive pressure which converted to easy buckets. South Putnam forced three quick turnovers, going on a 9-1 run to start the contest.
Jessica Canary had eight points and three steals in the first quarter alone, leading the Eagles to a 17-9 lead after the first quarter.
However, the second quarter was a different story.
In fact, it was the exact opposite story.
The Bruins started the second period with a 13-2 run, capped by a Kristin Lynn connecting with Jessica Mitchell in the post for two points with 1:45 remaining, giving Tri-West a 20-19 lead.
Both Jessica Canary and Meghan Canary were struggling for open looks, and the Bruins were responding with precise shooting on the offensive end.
'They did a great job, as far as defense,' Steffy said. 'They did a good job on Jess (Canary), as far as trying to keep the ball out of her hands.'
Tri-West stretched the lead to 25-20 when Jenna Cloud connected with Natalie Rhoades for three points with less than one minute remaining in the period.
Jessica Canary responded with two points, and the Bruins took a 25-22 lead into halftime.
'They've already won one game in the sectional,' Steffy said of Tri-West. 'So they had that winning swagger on their side tonight. And they played like it.'
However, South Putnam gathered a little swagger in third quarter, as the game picked up some pace. The Eagles put up 20 points in the quarter, while Tri-West didn't do too bad themselves, scoring 16.
However, Mitchell, the Bruins' main offensive weapon, picked up her fourth foul early in the period, and was forced to sit.
When Jessica Canary scored two points with 6:17 remaining in the period, the Eagles took a 29-27 lead, which later stretched to as many as seven points twice in the quarter.
However, a late third quarter Tri-West run cut the deficit to three points at 42-39 at the end of the period.
Mitchell re-entered the game at the start of the fourth, making an immediate impact in the game, scoring seven quick points, giving Tri-West a 46-44 lead with 4:30 remaining.
Jessica Canary responded with four straight points, and Mitchell picked up her fourth foul with 2:23 remaining in the quarter.
'When she came back in, it was like, 'we've got to get her out of the basketball game. We've got to take the ball to the basket,'' Steffy said. 'And I thought Dara (Booe) did a great job of just fronting her, trying to get in between her and the basketball.'
Mitchell ended with a team-high 14 points in limited action. After she exited the game, Tri-West never held another lead.
Left with a final chance, the Bruins faced a 50-48 deficit with 19.2 seconds remaining and possession of the ball.
However, a quick layup rimmed out, and Meghan Canary grabbed the rebound and was later fouled, connecting on both free throws.
The two shots iced the game and the trip to the finals for the Eagles.
South Putnam now plays Monrovia in the finals today at 7:30 p.m. The Eagles lost to the Bulldogs, 45-39 earlier in the season.
Although, after the game, Steffy didn't know who the Eagles would be playing. She didn't really care.
'Our goal was to get to play on Saturday night,' she said. 'So whoever we play is just great.'
Nevertheless, Steffy did say the Eagles would be looking forward to a rematch.
'I think our girls would like a chance to get to play them again,' she said.
Sectional 45 Semifinal
South Putnam 17 5 20 10 -- 52
Tri-West 9 16 14 9 -- 48
South Putnam -- Robinson 0-1 0-0 0, M. Canary 6-14 8-10 20, J. Canary 9-18 8-11 26, Birt 1-3 0-0 2, Boetjer 0-0 0-0 0, Booe 1-2 2-2 3, Searles 0-1 1-2 1, Mink 0-1 0-0 0. Totals FG 17-39, FT 19-25, TP 52.
Tri-West -- Rhoades 1-1 0-0 2, Jansen 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 3-9 0-0 6, Cloud 3-11, 4-4 12, Lynn 3-5 2-2 8, Booker 2-3 0-3 4, Mitchell 5-8 4-5 14. Totals FG 18-37, FT 10-14, TP 48.
3 pt. -- South Putnam 0, Tri-West 4 (Cloud 2, Anderson 2), Rebounds -- South Putnam 23 (Booe 6), Tri-West 19 (Lynn 5), Assists -- South Putnam 6 (J. Canary 2, M. Canary 2), Tri-West 10 (Cloud 3), Steals -- South Putnam 8 (J. Canary 5), Tri-West 5 (Cloud 2, Mitchell 2), Blocks -- South Putnam 3 (J. Canary 2), Tri-West 1 (Mitchell 1), Turnovers -- South Putnam 8, Tri-West 11.
Next game -- The Eagles play Monrovia today at 7:30 p.m.