Cascade ends Eagles' season in first round

Thursday, February 8, 2007
South Putnam's Heather Hughes drives to the bucket while being guarded by Cascade's Lindsey Stewart during the Eagles' 43-41 loss to the Cadets Wednesday.

CLAYTON -- The South Putnam Eagles girls' basketball team saw its hopes of advancing in the sectional dwindle away with just seconds remaining in the game Wednesday. The Eagles were defeated by Cascade 43-41 in the first round of the Class 2A Cascade sectional to end their season at 7-14, but not before a last minute charge.

"I'm really proud of them," coach Debbie Steffy said after the game.

South came into the fourth quarter down four points and with the Cadets seemingly in charge. Then Bailey Birt connected on a short jumper and hit two free throws to tie the game 33-all with just over five minutes remaining. After a quick bucket by Cascade's Kaiti Nease, C.J. Searles hit an inside bucket to tie and Samantha Stanifer drained two free throws to give South the lead, 37-35. But with a win clearly in sight, the Eagles watched as Kate Miller made two consecutive baskets to give the Cadets a four point lead.

South refused to accept defeat and dug in for one last charge.

With 37 seconds remaining, Birt stole the ball and took it to the rack for two, bringing the Cadet lead to two. Meghan Canary tied the game with a pair of free throws with 14 seconds remaining. But with the clock ticking down, South had to foul and hope for the best. Stanifer fouled Lindsey Stewart with four seconds left and saw Stewart hit both to give Cascade the lead and the win.

In the first quarter, Miller scored 11 points of her game-high 20 points, included three from beyond the arc. South only allowed Cascade to score four additional points in the quarter.

For the Eagles, Canary scored eight points in the quarter, with Birt and Searles contributing points to bring the Eagles within three as the quarter ended.

Leeah Butts gave South its first lead of the night when she hit a short jumper with 4.35 left in the second quarter. The Eagles stood toe-to-toe with the Cadets throughout the quarter until Cascade went on a small run to end the quarter. Nease and Miller scored Cascade's final five points of the half to lift the Cadets over the Eagles, 24-19, at the half.

The second half saw a rejuvenated Eagle squad take the court and start taking control of the game. Great play from Birt, Canary, and Stanifer kept the Eagles close and left them looking at just a two-point deficit as the final period started. But a win was not in the cards for the Eagles.

The constant bright spot for the Eagles was the play of Birt and Stanifer. Stanifer had the difficult task of trying to keep the Cadet's Miller in check, which she did with hustle on the defensive end.

"Stanifer came out and played well for us tonight," Steffy said. "She did a phenomenal job and that's a plus for us.

"She had a tough task and she still found a way to score some points for us."

Although South's season came to an end on Wednesday, Steffy remained positive and had the comfort of knowing her team left everything on the court.

"They came out and wanted to win this game," Steffy said. "We played hard the entire game, we just came up a little short."

Sectional action continues tonight as Cloverdale will go against Monrovia and North Putnam will face Tri-West at 7:30 p.m.

At Cascade

South Putnam 12 7 10 12 - 41

Cascade 15 9 7 12 - 43

South Putnam -- Canary 15, Birt 10, Stanifer 9, Searles 4, Butts 2, Boetjer 1. Totals: FG 15 FT 11-14 TP 41.

Cascade -- Miller 20, Wichman 9, Nease 9, Stewart 5. Totals: FG 14 TF 11-19 TP 43.

3pt. FG -- S. Putnam - None, Cascade - 4 (Miller 3, Stewart)

Next game -- Sectional action continues tonight as Cloverdale will go against Monrovia at 6 p.m. and North Putnam will face Tri-West at 7:30 p.m.

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