Hamilton County fights off Lady Indians to advance to Regional championship
Du Quoin's bench reacts to a late bucket by Elizabeth Bird during Tuesday's Regional semifinal game. (Doug Daniels Photos/Video)
By Doug Daniels
1351sports.com / duquoinsports.com
February 6, 2018
(Du Quoin, Ill.) - Du Quoin trailed by as many as twelve points in Tuesday's IHSA girls basketball Regional semifinal against Hamilton County, cut the lead down to three with under three minutes to go, but couldn't get over the hump down the stretch as the Lady Foxes held on to eliminate the Lady Indians 51-42 in Anders Gymnasium.
Ham-Co led all the way, but was never ever to put Du Quoin away completely until the final three minutes. The Foxes led 13-4 near the end of the opening quarter, but free throws from Bailey Harsy and a buzzer-beater by Chloe Hill knocked it down to five heading to the second.
The Foxes were up seven with time ticking down in the second period before Meryn Gross knocked down a three with 6 seconds to go, but Hamilton County answered with a three of their own at the horn to enter the halftime break up 28-20.
The lead was at ten through three quarters, and at eight with five minutes left in the fourth when the Lady Indians made a late charge. Elizabeth Bird knocked down two free throws with 4:08 to go, then after Du Quoin claimed possession following a jump ball, Bird connected from downtown with 2:45 to go to cut the lead to just three.
But the Lady Foxes would not be deterred, scoring on three straight possessions while Du Quoin turned it over twice, and suddenly their lead was back to nine with a minute and a half left. A three from Hill with 1:11 to play made it a six-point game, but DHS got no closer than that the rest of the way.
"Bird hit that big three and it knocked it down to three, and it's like 'alright, here we go, this is exactly what you're playing for," said DHS head coach Shawn File. "Then they came down and got another bucket, and the momentum switched back the other way. (Right before halftime) Meryn hits the big three, they come right back down and hit a three. The girls played so hard. This has been a wonderful group to coach. I probably say that every year but I've got absolutely awesome young women in there. Grace Haney being out senior, she's in there telling them 'I'm the only senior, you guys can be really, really good next year.' I'm just hoping that encouragement goes to those girls, that they understand how good we can be."
Bird led Du Quoin in scoring for the second straight night off the bench with 16 points. Hill added 8 points, Harsy 6, Grace Haney 4, Gross 3, Morgan Bullar 3, and Delaynie Dearmond 2.
"Tonight was a ball game where they took away a lot of our sets," File said, "and we had a more difficult time scoring, so we went to our five out and got some of the girls to drive. Bird, that's kind of her game. There's not many post players that can guard her. That was an area that we tried to take advantage of a little bit. She does a great job."
Du Quoin finishes the season with a record of 9-17 overall.