LOUISVILLE -- The fourth quarter played a big part in deciding both Class 1A girls' sectional semifinals. In the first game Okaw Valley led Altamont 48-45 with 5:15 left before going on an 8-0 run over the next 1:14 en route to a 69-59 triumph. In the second game Tri-County, the No. 4 team in the state led 38-33 entering the final quarter. An 11-1 run over a span of 3:12 helped the Lady Titans down Oblong 57-46 in a battle of two Little Okaw Valley Conference Southeast Division teams.
For Okaw Valley it is their first time in school history, including Bethany and Findlay (which started the consolidation in 2001-02), that the girls' basketball team has reached the Sweet 16. Tri-County, a sports co-op of Oakland, Kansas and Shiloh is making their second straight trip to the Sweet 16.
The sectional championship is set for 7 p.m. Thursday with Okaw Valley, 27-5, taking on the 27-4 Lady Titans. The two teams played in the Little Okaw Valley Conference Tournament championship with Tri-County winning 58-52.
Okaw Valley 68, Altamont 58
"It is a just a testament to the girls' competitiveness,"said Okaw Valley coach Brad Ackers. "They don't like to lose and they got after it in the second half. That was a heck of an effort. Sweet 16 sounds great."
Altamont finished the season at 24-6. The Lady Indians led by as much as five points, 11-6 in the first quarter. Okaw Valley tied the game at 13 and the game wad deadlocked two more times with the final time at 21 with 5;23 left in the half.
Madison Vogel's basket put the Lady Timberwolves ahead 50-45 and Paige Robinson scored four straight points before two free throws by Natalie Jeffers pushed the lead to 56-45 midway through the fourth.
Robinson scored the first eight points of the second quarter to give Okaw Valley a 21-16 lead. Robinson made six three-pointers in the game, going 6-of-10.
"Danielle Hill, a junior, stepped in and gave us big minutes because we have an injury unfortunately. The five starters probably played 90 percent of the game. It was gutty, gutty effort on their part. They make me look pretty smart sometimes. Defensively, we knew what they wanted to do. We have seen Altamont five times over the past two years," Akers said. "The key to the game was limiting them to one shot because the Mayhaus (Leah) and the rest of the girls are as good as you are going to see in 1A basketball at rebounding. I thought the second half especially late in the third and early in the fourth we did a really good job limiting them to one shot. We were able to capitalize on the offensive end a couple times in a row and make some free throws down the stretch to pull away."
Paige Robinson led the Lady Timberwolves with 36 points and 13 rebounds.
"At some point you just run out of superlatives for Paige," said Ackers. "Paige just rises to the occasion. The better the competition the better she plays."
Robinson passed the 2,000 point mark during the win as the Drury University recruit, has 2,005 currently.
Natalie Jeffers was also in double digits for the Lady Timberwolves with 18 points.
"I thought Natalie played a heck of a game," said Ackers. "She was coming of a sickness. We were just led by our three seniors. Hope Ruppert had six big points and guarded their best guard Tinley Mette all game. We are led by seniors and they are unchartered territory, but they are sure not afraid of the moment."
The two teams had played one time this season with Altamont winning 49-45.
"I knew I knew had to stay on my feet and not pick up anymore fouls," said Robinson, who had two in the first 7:15 of the game. "I didn't want to let the team down. My three-point shooting was off against Central A&M so, I had to get it back on tonight. "
Tri-County 57, Oblong 46
Freshman Tayler Barry scored 21 points to lead the Lady Titans and Maiya Eskew had 15 and Kiersten Price-Wilson added 12.
Tri-County led the entire game, but by no more than 11 until the fourth quarter.
"Kiertsten Price-Wilson made some key baskets," said Tri-County coach Joe Morrisey whose team was without Harley Berry. "She injured her shoulder in the regional championship against Nokomis. Hopefully she can play Thursday, but we don't know yet. We had to move a couple of girls around due to the injury. I thought Mayia Eskew did a great job. She set the defense up front and gets us playing at the pace we want to play at. I thought she really stepped up tonight."
Oblong shot just nine field goal attempts in the first half, but four were three-pointers and they were 9-of-16 from the free throw line. It was the Lady Panthers, who finished 21-7, first sectional appearance.
Abbie Dart led Oblong with 23 points.
The two teams played earlier in the season with the Lady Titans winning 51-28 Jan. 5