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AE girls edged by Wildcats in district semis

By Cort Reynolds

ELIDA__The Allen East High School girls basketball team rallied late but came up just short 49-45 to league rival Delphos Jefferson in the Div. III district semifinals Thursday, February29, at the Elida Fieldhouse, ending their season and 13-game win streak.

AE finished its season 21-3 with the defeat.

DJ improved to an identical mark of 21-3 with the hard-fought victory.

The third-seeded Wildcat girls will meet top seed Ottawa-Glandorf (22-2) in the district final for the second year in a row at Elida Saturday afternoon.

“We had some great looks, just couldn’t get them to fall,” said Lady Mustang head coach Aaron Montgomery. “I thought early we just didn’t come out focused and ready to play.

“After halftime we showed some fight and toughness, but just couldn’t find it offensively,” he noted. 

AE led 4-2 early on a left-handed layup and a stickback basket by senior post Soraya Jackson. 

Wildcat NWC Player of the Year Lyv Lindeman tied it on a driving layin, and DJ took the lead for what ultimately was for good on a triple by Madison Burris.

A basket by Kyah Kimmet and a trey from Lindeman extended the Wildcat lead to 12-4.

After a Mustang timeout, Rylie Jordan grabbed a loose ball and knocked down a putback. Kimmet answered with a backdoor layup. 

Jackson split two foul shots with two seconds left in the period to cut the DJ lead to 14-7 after the opening stanza.

AE senior Savana Brooks sank a short jumper, followed by an inside move and basket by Lauren French. Mustang senior guard Aubrey Young rolled in a mid-range shot to cut the lead to 16-11.

DJ senior Kyrstin Moore splashed a triple to build the lead to eight. The 6-2 French grabbed a lob entry pass and scored inside to give the Wildcats a 21-11 lead with just over a minute left in the half.

Jordan stole the ball and fed speedy junior Rilynn Jones on a breakaway layin for her first basket.

The first team All-NWC Mustang duo of Brooks and Jones had averaged about 31 points per game coming into the fray, but the tandem was held to four total points in the first half.

The Mustangs shot poorly (6-31, 0-8 beyond the arc) in the first half as the 6-2 French grabbed eight defensive rebounds. Jackson snared five offensive caroms in the first half.

Three triples by DJ helped build their eight-point intermission lead.

Jones drilled two foul shots to open the second half. Lindeman drove the lane, was fouled and canned both free tosses. Burris drew a charging foul in the lane on the attacking Jones.

A Lindeman lob touch pass to French resulted in a layup. AE post Taylor Nickles scored on a nice pass from Brooks. 

Jones canned an 18-footer, but French answered with a power move inside for two. Nickles missed four foul shots in a row, while Lindeman split a pair for a 28-19 lead.

French scored inside to increase the lead to 11 with just over two minutes left in the third period. Brooks nailed the first AE triple of the game to cut the deficit to 30-22 at the 90-second mark.

Jones scored on a breakaway layup as DJ left the backcourt unguarded. Moore splashed a key triple to stem the AE momentum and provide a 33-24 lead.

Jackson corralled an airball and laid it in to start the fourth quarter. French took a good entry pass and scored a layup.

Dylan Miller canned a corner shot. Brooks stole the ball on a double team and Jones scored in transition to cut the DJ lead to 35-30 at the 5:36 mark.

French rebounded a Lindeman miss and put it back in. Miller then drained a trey to pull within 36-32 at the 4:30 juncture. French then grabbed her own miss and laid it in.

Lindeman came up with a steal and breakaway layup with 3:54 remaining. AE turned it over on a dropped pass. AE stole it back, Jones was fouled and made a free throw. 

Brooks stole the ball on the press and scored. French got an uncontested layin off a long pressbreaker pass. Jackson split two foul shots, and Jones added a layup off a Lindeman turnover.

Jefferson missed a drive, yet AE threw the ball away to keep the deficit at 43-39 with 2:06 left. A determined Lindeman penetrated the lane and scored a big basket.

Jackson scored inside but missed the free throw for an and-one with 1:40 to go. Jackson stole an entry pass for French, and Brooks sank a lane shot to cut the lead to just 45-43 with 1:06 left in regulation.

Lindeman was fouled with 48 seconds left and made only the second charity striper. Jackson was fouled at the 36-second mark and splashed both shots to inch AE within a point.

Lindeman drew a foul and canned two free tosses for a 48-45 lead. Jones missed a lane floater, and the rebound was batted out of bounds by DJ with 19 ticks remaining.

But Lindeman stole the ball, was fouled and made the second of two foul shots with 12 seconds remaining to give Jefferson a key four-point, two-possession cushion. 

In a defensive battle, that may have been the biggest defensive play of the game.

Lindeman then blocked a three-pointer by Jones, and time expired.

“I was hoping Rilynn would get downhill and attack the rim,” explained Montgomery of the last AE play. “But she has always had the green light to take what she thinks is there.”

AE outscored DJ 21-16 in the fourth period, but couldn’t quite overcome its poor shooting over the first 24 minutes. The Mustangs almost equaled their first three period output (24 points) in the final stanza.

Delphos beat visiting AE 57-41 on January 4. Since that loss, the Mustang girls had defeated 13 straight opponents by an average margin of 20.8 points per game.

French led all players with 20 points and 19 rebounds.  

Lindeman, hampered by a sprained ankle suffered five days before in the sectional finals, was limited to 16 points.

Junior guard Jones tallied 13 points to lead AE, while Jackson contributed 12 markers. Brooks scored nine in her final Mustang game.

AE out-rebounded DJ 43-39 despite the 19 boards by French.

But the cold-shooting Mustangs made just 30 percent from two-point land and 11 percent beyond the arc, as well as 46 percent at the foul line.

The versatile and unselfish Brooks ended her decorated AE hoop career third on the Mustang girls all-time scoring list. She helped lead AE to a 53-40 record in her four seasons, including 38-10 the past wo years.

Brooks made first team All-NWC the past two seasons, and was honorable mention all-league as a freshman and sophomore.

Seniors Young, Benson and Jackson also played their final AE games. 

“Overall it was a good season, I am very proud of these kids,” Montgomery summed up. “We tied the school record for wins in a season and the fewest losses for any (AE) team in a season.

“Delphos was a better team today, but I am proud of these kids and proud to be the leader of this program,” he added.

AE canned 16 deuces on 53 two-point tries, and made just two of 18 trifecta attempts. They converted seven of 15 free throws (46 percent).

DJ sank 15 two-pointers, and hit four triples. The Wildcats made good on seven of 11 foul shots (64 percent). 

With both teams making almost the same amount of deuces and seven foul shots each, Delphos canning two more three-pointers helped spell the difference.

Top-seeded Ottawa-Glandorf beat Parkway 41-26 in the first district semifinal Thursday in Elida. 

O-G improved to 22-2 with the win, while Parkway finished 17-7.

The Titan girls take on Jefferson Saturday in the district finals Saturday, March 2 at 2 p.m. 

The district champion goes on to the Div III regionals, also at Elida.


D. Jeff 49 (21-3)

Kimmet 2 0-0 4, Burris 1 0-0 3, Moore 2 0-0 6, Lindeman 4 7-10 16, Brinkman 0 0-0 0, Mueller 0 0-0 0, French 10 0-1 20.

Totals: 15-4/7-11/49. 3-pointers: Moore 2, Lindeman 1, Burris 1.

AE 45 (21-3)

Lehman 0 0-0 0. Jordan 1 0-0 2, Jones 5 3-4 13, Brooks 4 0-0 9, D. Miller 2 0-0 5, Nickles 1 0-4 2, Young 1 0-0 2, Jackson 4 4-7 12, Richardson 0 0-0 0, E. Miller 0 0-0 0, Benson 0 0-0 0.

Totals: 16-2/7-15/45. 3-pointers: Brooks 1, D. Miller 1.


1 2 3 4 F

AE 7 6 11 21 45

DJ 14 7 12 16 49