After being snowed out Saturday the Manchester girls sectional championship took place Monday at Manchester with defending champion Wabash taking on Northfield.
The Lady Apaches made it to the championship by defeating Oak Hill and Lewis Cass, while Northfield topped Manchester and Southwood. The two teams had met twice prior to the championship with Wabash winning both games 40-27 and 43-36.
It’s always hard to beat a team three times in a season, but the Lady Apaches did just that in a come from behind 51-46 thriller.
Wabash got off to a 2-0 start on two Sarah Puckett free throws before Cherish Leming and Payton Thomson gave Northfield a 4-2 lead. Wabash would answer with a three from Shelby Stone and a deuce from Kristin Cromer to grab the lead back at 7-4 when two Leming free throws made it 7-6. Sarah Pucket would then score on an offensive rebound to grab a 3 point lead when Abby Keaffaber drained a three followed by a second Thomson bucket for an 11-9 Northfield lead after one.
The Lady Norse would increase their lead to five to start the second on Keaffaber’s second bomb that was answered by Sydni Mullett to make it 14-11. The Lady Norse would then make it tough on Wabash as Cherish Leming hit a bucket that started a 9-0 run for Northfield to grab a 23-11 lead. During the run Thomson nailed a three followed by a Leming bucket and an Arie Kennedy free throw. The Lady Apaches would get the lead to single digits when Puckett and Claire Cromer hit to make it 23-15, with Leming hitting a free throw to make it 24-15. Shelby Stome would then drain her second three pointer that was answered by a Kennedy bucket for a 26-18 Northfield halftime lead.
The Lady Apaches are known for making third quarter surges and although is wasn’t a big run they did cut the Northfield lead to end the quarter. Sarah Puckett hit the first bucket to start the quarter that was answered by Cherish Leming to make it 28-20. Claire Cromer would then hit two straight to close the gap to 28-24 when Payton Thomson connected. Another Puckett bucket followed by a Kennedy bucket and a Claire Cromer three made it 31-29. Things got really tight when Thomson hit a free throw followed by a Madison Barden bucket to slice the lead to one at 32-31. Kennedy and Barden would then trade buckets before Cherish Leming ended the quarter with two free throws as Northfield led 36-33.
The fourth quarter started with a Claire Cromer free throw and a Sarah Puckett basket to knot the score at 36 before Payton Thomson gave the Norse a 38-36 lead with two free throws. Claire Cromer matched the Thomson free throws to make it 38-38 when Jacklyn Peas hit a free throw followed by a Thomson bucket to give Northfield a 41-38 lead. Two Sarah Puckett free throws were answered by an Abby Keaffaber three as the Norse led 44-40. With just over three minutes left to play Puckett connected and with 2:55 on the clock Madison Barden tied the score at 44. With 1:37 left the score was still tied at 44 when Puckett made two free throws to give Wabash their first lead since early in the first quarter at 46-44. After a Northfield miss the Norse were forced to foul with Claire Cromer making one free throw with 41 seconds remaining to make it 47-44. Abby Keaffaber hit with 23.8 left to make it 47-46. The Norse fouled with 23.2 left with Cromer converting both free throws for a 49-46 lead. One more miss and a foul gave Cromer two more free throws with 10.4 remaining for a 51-46 lead which would end up being the final score.
Leading Wabash was Sarah Puckett with 18 points. Claire Cromer added 17, Shelby Stone 6, Madison Barden 6, Kristin Cromer 2, Sydni Mullett 2.
Cherish Leming and Payton Thomson led Northfield with 14 points each. Abby Keaffaber added 11, Arie Kennedy 6, Jacklyn Peas 1.The Lady Apaches will now take their 22-3 record to the Lapel regional Saturday where they will take on Shenandoah, who is also 22-3. Wabash plays at 10:30 with Sheridan(20-6) and Fountain Central(20-3) playing the second game. An Apache win would put Wabash in the championship game at 8:00.