GREENFIELD — Deliberate. Patient. Calculated.
Through the first half Wednesday night, the Greenfield-Central Cougars solved the riddle. By dictating the tempo, they slowed down one of Class 4A’s most prolific shooting teams — until the second half.
Breaking a 13-all tie with a 15-2 run in the third quarter, seventh-ranked Westfield (13-1) won their sixth straight 42-34 to seize the Laker Farm Implement Service Inc. & Riley Park Tire Service Inc. Basketball Tournament championship.
“They’re good. We’re good. It was a battle. It was a fun game and a fun tournament,” Greenfield-Central head coach Doug Laker said. “They have a lot of weapons and are great at spreading the ball around. (Westfield coach) Ginny (Smith) has done a great job with that team.”
In the first half, the Cougars controlled their own destiny.
Biding their time for quality shots in opportune moments, Greenfield-Central led 10-8 after the first quarter and despite falling behind 13-10, were able to deadlock the score behind a slick layup by Madison Wise and a key freethrow from Savannah Girolami in the half’s final minute.
The Cougars (11-4) went up 18-15 to start the second half with Katie Helgason finding Jessica Farrell for a quick bucket and Wise for a step-back 3-pointer.
Wise finished with a game-high 19 points. Helgason had five assists and six points.
Hemmed up through the first half, Westfield’s leading scorers broke free in the third quarter, with Abby Reeder leading the rally.
The guard drained two of her three treys in the third, finishing with a team-high 15 points. She was a perfect 4-for-4 from the foul line.
Eastern Illinois recruit Allison Van Dyke added five of her 11 total points in the third quarter after just posting six in the first half.
She averaged 14.7 points per game in the 15 games prior.
Akron signee Haliegh Reinoehl went scoreless in the first half but chipped in six points, with four coming from the foul line as Greenfield-Central kept the game close and led three times before falling behind by 10 points.
The Cougars went on a 5-0 run early in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to four points twice in the final frame, but Westfield shot 13 of 14 from the free-throw line to fend off a comeback.
The loss marked Greenfield-Central’s first after winning seven straight, including back-to-back to reach the championship game.
The Shamrocks had to clear two hurdles before taking home the trophy. In the semifinals, Pendleton Heights led Westfield until the fourth quarter. The Shamrocks overcame three late ties to pull away 53-48.
Greenfield and Westfield will face each other again Jan. 9 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 1:30 p.m. during a showcase event.
“We’ll see them again next Saturday,” Laker said. “We’ll see if we can adjust some things and take some things with us and get better with it.”
It wasn’t exactly how Laker drew it up, but the Cougars were more than relieved to walk away as the victors after a tug-of-war semifinal match-up Wednesday morning.A day after their offense could do no wrong, the Cougars struggled to find their shot against Class A No. 6 Marquette Catholic, surviving 34-30 to advance into the evening’s championship game.Greenfield-Central shot 57 percent from the field during its first-round game Tuesday against Richmond. In the semifinals, the percentage dropped 30 points.
“That’s a really good team, a team that could win the Class A state championship,” Laker said. “Some days everything isn’t going to go your way. We didn’t shoot the ball that well from the field like yesterday, but we’re not that bad of a shooting team or as good as we were yesterday. Water will find it’s level. You just need to even it out.”
The Cougars fell behind 6-2 early before taking the lead 14-13 in the second quarter, but it wasn’t until the end that their margin felt secure.
The game stood tied four times through the first three quarters. Two key 3-pointers by Kate Real and Savannah Girolami put Greenfield-Central ahead 26-23 and 29-28 with the game still in question.
The Cougars didn’t have a single player reach double figures as Marquette Catholic’s defense forced them into difficult shots.
Katie Helgson finished with eight points and six assists, while Madison Wise scored a team-high nine points on 4 of 21 shooting.
Jessica Farrell wrapped up a team-best six rebounds, and Savannah Girolami provided a second-half leading seven points with both proving crucial for the Cougars.
“’G’ hit some big, big shots and she’s defended well all season long,” Laker said. “Jessica and G won this game for us.”
Emma Nolan had a game-high 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Blazers, who were riding an 11-game winning streak.
A Morgan Crook runner with 4:15 left in the game gave Marquette Catholic its final lead before Greenfield-Central’s defense and 5-for-7 performance from the free throw line sealed the win.
2015-16 Tournament Results
Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015
First Round: Greenfield-Central 70, Richmond 30
First Round: Marquette Catholic 51, East Central 48
First Round: Pendleton Heights 71, Whitko 47
First Round: Westfield 66, Eastern (Ky.) 54
Consolation: East Central 54, Richmond 35
Consolation: Eastern (Ky.) 77, Whitko 59
Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015
Semifinal: Greenfield-Central 34, Marquette Catholic 30
Semifinal: Westfield 53, Pendleton Heights 48
Seventh-Place: Whitko 55, Richmond 50
Fifth-Place: East Central 52, Eastern (Ky.) 34
Third-Place: Marquette Catholic 55, Pendleton Heights 53
Championship: Westfield 42, Greenfield-Central 34
Allie McCool, East Central
Shavia Thompson, Eastern (Ky.)
Katie Helgason, Greenfield-Central
Madison Wise, Greenfield-Central
Savannah Girolami, Greenfield-Central
Sophia Nolan, Marquette Catholic
Emma Nolan, Marquette Catholic
Sam Hammel, Pendleton Heights
Aly Reiff, Whitko
Haliegh Reinoehl, Westfield
Abby Reeder, Westfield
Allison Van Dyke, Westfield
JV Tournament Results
Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015
Gm 1A: (semifinal) Greenfield-Central 51, Richmond 6
Gm 2A: (semifinal) East Central 57, Marquette Catholic 21
Gm 3A (consolation): Marquette Catholic 32, Richmond 10
Gm 4A (championship): East Central 37, Greenfield-Central 35
Gm 1B: (semifinal) Pendleton Heights 38, Whitko 24
Gm 2B: (consolation) Eastern (Ky.) 52, Whitko 46
Gm 3B (championship): Pendleton Heights 55, Eastern (Ky.) 54, OT