DMS girls claim Regional title; advance to State Quarterfinals
The Lady Warriors with their Regional Championship trophy after Saturday's game. (Doug Daniels Photos)
By Doug Daniels
1351sports.com / duquoinsports.com
January 14, 2018
(McLeansboro, Ill.) - It was the kind of game that might impress Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning. The whistle-blowing at Saturday's Class L girls basketball Regional championship game in McLeansboro wound up sending five players to the bench with five personal fouls and resulted in a whopping 72 free throws, but when the dust settled, it was the Lady Warriors prevailing through adversity to advance to the State Final Tournament with a 46-41 win over Hamilton County.
"At the beginning of the year, they had a very hard team keeping their heads, they'd get mad, they'd do stupid things because things weren't going their way," said DMS head coach Debbie Ritter. "They really have grown up a lot as ball players, and as young ladies, just to be able to keep their composure when they get down. They've grown up a lot throughout the year."
Receiving more than her share of the wrath of the game's officiating crew, Du Quoin's Ayanna Dunklin picked up two early fouls and as a result didn't score in the first half. She would return later, however, and make her presence felt in a major way.
The Warriors were called for 15 fouls in the opening half and watched as the Foxes built a 21-16 lead heading into the break. Du Quoin mounted a charge in the third quarter with A. Dunklin back on the floor, as she scored all eleven of her points for the game in the period and helped DMS to a 32-24 lead with a 12-0 run.
"(Ayanna) has so much speed as a center," Ritter said. "You don't see post players as fast as Ayanna, or Loveleen, either one. You get those two out there and nobody can guard them, they have such quick feet."
Hamilton County got four free throws to fall in the final 1:28 of the quarter, though, and trailed by just four entering the fourth.
A. Dunklin became the first player to foul out with 6:08 to play, and free throws cut Du Quoin's lead down to 33-30. But the Lady Warriors would not be denied, going on a 9-2 run that was capped off by Lauren Heape's three-pointer with just under four minutes remaining in the game. Heape later hit two free throws to ice the game at the line and finished with a team-high 13 points.
Loveleen Dunklin added 9 points, Abbi Mocaby had 5, Emma Fischer and Maddie Stevenson each had 4.
DMS (20-4) will play in the State Quarterfinals at Rend Lake College on Saturday, January 20 at 9:30 a.m. against either Olney or Mt. Carmel. A win there sends them into the semifinals on January 23.