Lady Eagles end with third at national regionals

The Huntington Lady Eagles finished off their season by placing third at the Homeschool National Regionals held on Saturday, March 1, in Indianapolis.

The Lady Eagles, 22-6 won a pair of games with one loss to claim their place, overcoming the illness of starters Alyssa Lieffers and Abby Ballinger.

Four different regionals are held across the country and the Indianapolis regional featured six teams ranked in the nation's top 25.

The Lady Eagles won the first game against 19th-rnaked Nashville, 45-41, lost the second to the 10th-ranked Cincinnati Trailblazers, 50-37 and then got a comeback 47-46 win against archrival Mishawaka.

"It really was a David and Goliath situation," said Head Coach Mark Shultz of the opening match between Huntington and Nasvhille.

"They had 15 girls on the roster and we only had seven dressing as Abby dressed at the last moment."

Nashville jumped out to a 10-1 lead to start the game before the Lady Eagles composed themselves to trail by just three at the end of one. After Huntington went up by one at the half, Kelli Neff started off the third quarter with a pair of threes to give the Lady Eagles a seven-point cushion. Huntington led 30-24 at the end of three and won the game, 45-41.

Catherine Weaver led the team with 27. Erin Sickafoose added eight and Kelli Neff had six.

Alhough the Lady Eagles got minutes from both Ballinger and Lieffers in the second game, neither was close to full strength, and Huntington lost, 50-37.

The consolation game for third place was against a familiar opponent, with the Lady Eagles facing the No. 21 Mishawaka Christian Wildcats. After three periods, the Wildcats held a four-point advantage and Huntington was feeling the effects of being shorthanded all weekend. It appeared the game was over with 49 seconds remaining and the Lady Eagles trailing, 46-41, and Mishawaka at the line.

However, the foul shot missed and Weaver was fouled. The senior dropped two freebies to narrow the lead to three. Huntington fouled and put Mishawaka back on the line, where they missed again. Needing a trey to knot things up, Ballinger delivered one for the Lady Eagles. After a miss at the other end, Erin Sickafoose grabbed the rebound and was fouled. The sophomore then drained one of two free throws to give Huntington the improbable win.

"They did it again," said Shultz. "All year long they have found a way to win against all odds. I keep telling them that nothing they can do will surprise me anymore and they turn around and do it.

"This has been the most incredible season and team I have ever been around."