Facing five girls nearly 6-foot and taller, Meadow Bridge found itself in a David vs. Goliath situation Wednesday night against Valley.
The Wildcats didn’t ask for a slingshot, however.
They used grit, determination and a sparkplug two-guard named Chandra Harrah to defeat the Greyhounds 53-40 in a Class A Region 3 co-final.
“It goes back to the community,” coach Steve Taylor said. “We’re a small school, and whatever the sport is, the kids play hard.”
Despite losing twice to the Greyhounds during the regular season, Meadow Bridge (12-9) took the ball to them.
Valley rejected a lot of shots — 6-2 Lashea Edmonds led the block parade with three — but the Greyhounds also committed numerous fouls.
The Wildcats took advantage with several three-point plays and 28 foul shots. They made 17.
“You have to drive. You have to want it,” said Harrah, a 5-7 freshman who scored 22 points. “I wasn’t afraid at all.”
Harrah, who averages 14 points a game, scored 10 in the final period, including eight from the charity stripe. Her driving basket and resulting foul shot with 11 seconds remaining put the final exclamation point on the win.
She’s scored over 300 points as a freshman.
“Chandra had a good middle school career and we knew she had phenomenal ball-handling and shooting skills,” Taylor said. “We’re still working with her. She’s got a great career ahead of her.”
Valley’s promising freshman, 5-9 forward Alexis Payne, also had a big game with 22 points, five rebounds, three steals and a block.
No one else hit double figures, however. Point guard Harley Abbott, the Greyhounds’ 3-point threat, fouled out with 5:49 left to play.
“Losing (Abbott) hurt,” coach Marshall Murray said. “Without her, we were throwing the ball away.”
For much of the game, Valley got the ball inside to its big players, only to shoot, miss, get the rebound and miss yet again from the lane.
“Meadow Bridge did a good job of manning up on Payne. We had layups on the back side, but the other girls didn’t rotate,” Murray said. “We were out of position.”
It was nip and tuck until the fourth quarter. Valley led by two after one period and trailed by two, 21-19, at halftime.
Neither team could buy a bucket for most of the third quarter, which concluded with the Wildcats up 26-25.
Payne, who made her first eight foul shot attempts, hit two for Valley’s final lead early in the fourth.
Holly Gunnoe followed her own shot for Meadow Bridge, and Kristen Redden hit a foul shot.
Payne struck again at the foul line, but Harrah drove in, was fouled on two straight possessions and hit four foul shots to make it 33-29.
Abbott fouled out shortly afterward, and the Wildcats pulled away.
Valley (10-6) was hurt by turnovers, while Harrah and point guard Cayli Bolen worked the ball in to Redden and Sarah Fleshman for key baskets down the stretch.
“We also told our players to take care of the basketball and wait for the good shot because we were in the 1-and-1,” Taylor said.
Chandra White hit a three with 48 seconds remaining to end any hope of a Valley comeback.
Bre’onna Newkirk finished with six rebounds and six points for the Greyhounds. Edmonds was held to four points while Abbott had seven before fouling out.
“Our girls thought because we beat them twice it would be easy,” Murray said. “Give credit to Meadow Bridge. They hustled and they did what they had to do. They deserved to win.”
Bolen scored 12 points and Redden had six points, eight rebounds and five steals.
The Wildcats will play this week in the state tournament. They will face top-seeded St. Joseph at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
“We’re there,” Taylor said. “This is the true story of a small school that dug down deep and wanted to go hang around with the big boys.”
Meadow Bridge 53, Valley 40
Bre’onna Newkirk 3 0-0 6, Harley Abbott 2 1-2 7, Bobbi Dyer 0 0-0 0, Alexis Payne 7 8-11 22, Lashea Edmonds 2 0-0 4, Danielle Grubb 0 1-2 1, Sierra Goins 0 0-0 0, Javin Thompson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 10-16 40
Meadow Bridge (12-9)
Cayli Bolen 3 6-10 12, Chandra Harrah 7 6-9 21, Chelsea White 1 0-0 3, Kristen Redden 1 4-6 6, Holly Gunnoe 2 0-0 4, Laira Forren 1 0-0 2, Sarah Fleshman 2 1-3 5, Allison Gilkerson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 17-28 53.
V 15 4 6 15 — 40
MB 11 10 5 27 — 53
Three-point goals: V: 2 (Abbott 2); MB: 2 (Harrah, White). Fouled out: V: Abbott.