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'End of an era'

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OPEN LOOK: Clinton Prairie’s Rebekah Lloyd eyes the basket in the second half of the Gophers’ 48-30 sectional loss to Seeger on Saturday.
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PRESSURE D: Clinton Prairie’s Hannah Wilson pressures the ball against Seeger’s Kiley White in the second half as the Gophers pressed to get back in the game on Saturday.
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HUGS FOR A SENIOR: Clinton Prairie’s Tatum Neal received hugs from the coaching staff, including asssitant Hillary Doyle above, after the senior leader was subbed out in the closing minutes of the Gophers’ 48-30 sectional loss on Saturday.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Clinton Prairie ended an otherwise successful girls basketball season with a thud – or a clank off the rim – on Saturday, losing 48-30 to Seeger in a Class 2A Sectional semi-final game at Lafayette Central Catholic.

The Gophers had an uncharacteristically poor shooting night and an unexpected slow start, making only two field goals on their way to scoring eight points in the first half. Prairie head coach Amie Anthrop was at a loss to explain what occurred right after the game.

“I don’t really know,” she said. “We talked about one of the keys of the game was that we had to have a good start and we just didn’t quite come ready to play. We missed a lot of easy shots and missed some tough shots in the first half. I think missing those shots went to our girls’ heads, and we didn’t do the little things.

“For us to only score eight points in a half, that’s not who we are. I don’t know. Maybe the pressure, maybe playing a game last night, I don’t know for sure. We just didn’t quite come ready to play and really had to play catch-up for almost the entire game.”

Prairie ended its season with an 18-6 record and an outright Hoosier Heartland Conference championship. The low scoring output shouldn’t be a major surprise as the two teams played a tight 32-31 regular-season matchup on Jan. 3 at Seeger won by the Gophers, where the Patriots’ deliberate offensive style and defense were on display as well.

Prairie’s first-half shooting was beyond that though.

“We shot 18 percent from the field,” Anthrop said. “At this level and against a good team like that, you can’t win games when you shoot 18 percent. We got it to 10. We had some opportunities. We just missed some shots and just gave up a little too easy of stuff on the other end.”

The Gophers took their only lead of the game in the first 40 seconds when freshman Tynlie Neal made a difficult driving shot in the lane. Seeger (19-3 who was to face Lafayette Central Catholic on Monday in the championship) was not much more effective offensively early, taking a 4-2 lead with 5:32 left in the quarter on a bucket by freshman Riley Shrader. The Patriots left the first quarter with an 8-3 lead, with Tatum Neal hitting a free throw only to see the second one wiped out by a lane violation with 1:30 left.

As in the first quarter, Prairie scored early in the second quarter on an Emma McKinney bucket on their first possession making it a three-point game. They would only get a free throw from Rebekah Lloyd with 4:32 left in the half and two from Tynlie Neal with two minutes before the break.

Seeger did slightly better, opening the lead to 14-5 with a six-point run midway through the period and hitting some late free throws for a 21-8 halftime lead. Junior Kiley White did most of the damage for the Patriots with six of her 14 points for the game.

The Gophers began to relentlessly press starting at the end of the second quarter, with it starting to rattle Seeger in the third quarter with several turnovers. Prairie cut the lead to 10 late in the third quarter on a Rylee Ward 3, with the Gopher bench and crowd urging them on, and again early in the fourth on a Katie Blacker 3. In each case, they had several opportunities to cut the lead below double digits, but missed two open 3s and shots near the basket slowing their momentum.

“We got it to 10,” Anthrop said. “We had some opportunities. We just missed some shots and just gave up a little too easy of stuff on the other end.”

The Patriots beat the press a few times with back cuts and long passes over it and had one key inbounds play after a timeout where Emily Shrader scored an easy two under the basket off a designed play to push the lead back to 12. Seeger increased the lead late as the Gophers were forced to gamble more on defense and foul.

Although Anthrop didn’t mention the officiating in her post-game comments, it may have affected the flow of the game although not appearing to favor either squad. Both schools’ coaches received warnings at different points in the second half from the officials, with a lot of contact being allowed inside and many smaller fouls called on the perimeter. The Gophers had free throws taken away on lane violations twice in the game.

Despite the way the season ended, Anthrop didn’t want it to overshadow the positives of their season.

“It’s like what I told the girls in there, ‘one game does not define who we are and it doesn’t define what we accomplished this season,’” she said. “I told them they needed to be proud of what they accomplished this season.

“But, the work for next season begins and the way they feel right now after this game should be a driving force for the future,” Anthrop added.

Seniors Tatum Neal and Liz Perez were subbed out late in the game, receiving hugs from the coaching staff and applause from the Prairie crowd. As one Gopher fan was overheard saying, “It’s the end of an era.”

Neal, a four-year starter, finished her career with 1,419 points with Prairie going 68-29 during those years.

“What Tatum Neal has done for this program, it’s hard to put into words,” Anthrop said. “She’s going to leave Prairie with a lot of accolades and she’s just such a good representative of what this school is about.

“Liz is just a great role model,” she added. “She’s a great leader and she’s got such a great personality.

“Both of them I’m sure are going to do great things in their lives. It’s hard to end it this way for them because they’re such great people. We are very proud and very fortunate that we got to coach them this year.”

At Lafayette


Seeger – Totals 13 18-24 48.

Clinton Prairie – Blacker 2 0-0 6, Tynlie Neal 2 2-5 6, McKinney 3 0-0 6, Tatum Neal 0 4-6 4, Lloyd 1 1-3 3, Ward 1 0-0 3, Hadley Wilson 0 2-2 2, Hannah Wilson 0 0-0 0, Perez 0 0-0 0, Martin 0 0-0 0, Maish 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 9-16 30.

Seeger 8 13 13 14 -- 48

Clinton Prairie 3 5 16 6 -- 30

3-point goals -- Seeger (4), Clinton Prairie (Blacker 2, Ward 1). Total fouls – Seeger 15, Clinton Prairie 21.