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By DAVE HINTON
Rantoul Press editor
Two area high school girls basketball teams that entered the state playoffs seeded No. 1 in their regionals came out with different results in championship games Thursday night.
At Farmer City, top-seeded Fisher breezed past Blue Ridge 57-33 to advance to this week’s Fisher Sectional.
Meanwhile at Armstrong, the top-seeded host Trojans were knocked off by Danville Schlarman 45-38.
Fisher coach Ken Ingold said his team wanted to get rolling early and did just that.
“Strategy-wise, before the game, we said we wanted to get started fast,” Ingold said.
The Bunnies built a 13-8 lead after one quarter and ballooned it to 21-12 by halftime. The lead grew from there.
Ingold said his team didn’t take Blue Ridge lightly.
“Blue Ridge had been playing really well,” he said. “They had some nice games toward the end of the season and the night before had a good game against Heritage.”
The coach said the Bunnies did a good job of executing the game plan, attacking on offense.
Out of Fisher’s 22 baskets, 18 came off of assists.
The Bunnies forced Blue Ridge out of its zone as Sydney Blackwell canned four first half three-pointers and teammate Kelcie Fredrickson had one.
Blue Ridge had to play man to man after that, and Fisher was able to get the ball into its 6-2 center, Caitlin Cole.
Fredrickson, a sophomore off guard, had seven points, six steals and six assists.
“That’s a pretty solid game for her,” Ingold said. “She’s just really improved as the season’s went along.”
Point guard Olivia Heffernan handed out 10 assists, while Cole notched 12 points and 11 assists.
Fisher’s improved play (the Bunnies start all sophomores and juniors) has continued.
“We’re 9-2 since the Christmas break,” Ingold said. “We had a rough stretch in December. We had some tough losses. The girls kind of got together in December and had a players-only meeting to start the new year. They really got us focused.”
Three Bunnies advanced in the three-point shooting competition — Fredrickson, Blackwell and Hannah Varner.
Fisher whips Uni High
Fisher advanced to the championship game with a 50-35 win over Urbana Uni High behind Cole’s 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Three Bunnies — Blackwell, Fredrickson and Varner — hit first-quarter three-pointers.
That opened up the inside for Cole, who scored nine second-quarter points. Senior Emma Hoyer led Uni High (10-17) with 21 points.
At Armstrong, the visiting Hilltoppers managed to grab the lead in the fourth quarter and refused to give it back.
“It was a really close game the whole way out,” Armstrong-Potomac coach Nick Hipsher said. “They made some plays at the end. They made some shots, and we had some critical turnovers in the fourth quarter.”
Armstrong-Potomac committed 11 turnovers, but “three or four” of them were in the fourth quarter when the Trojans were trying to claw back.
The Trojans were forced to foul toward the end, which gave Schlarman a little more of a cushion as it hit its free throws.
A-P held a five-point lead in the first half and led 17-16 at intermission, but Schlarman owned the second half, outscoring A-P 29-21.
Hipsher said Schlarman didn’t change anything in the second half. It just executed it better.
“They ran a high pick and roll for (Cierra) Bell, and the difference was she hit a couple of jump shots,” Hipsher said. “She wasn’t really hitting them early, but she hit them late.”
Erika Sieberns led Armstrong-Potomac with 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Johanna Bruens contributed nine points and seven boards.
Looking back, Hipsher said he thought his team improved during the 2012-13 campaign.
“I thought we got better throughout the season,” he said. “We had some injuries and other issues that hurt us throughout the year.”
The Trojans finished the season with an 18-10 record.
A-P downs Salt Fork
The Trojans advanced to the championship game with a 50-27 win over Salt Fork.
Sieberns scored a game-high 22 points for A-P.
Teammates Morgan Zindars and Heather Ellis scored 16 points and 11 points, respectively.
Schlarman advanced to the title game with a 41-38 defeat of Cissna Park.
Two Armstrong-Potomac players advanced in the three-point shooting competition — Rachel Miles and Zindars.