Girls Varsity Basketball · Florey, freshmen rally Western Boone past Park Tudor

DOVER – Western Boone knew something had to change in the second half Friday night if they didn’t want their season to come to an end.

The Lady Stars found themselves out played for a vast majority of the half, trailed by as many as 19, and trailed 35-20 to Park Tudor at the break in their sectional semifinal.

So rather than have a normal halftime talk, the Stars had an impromptu walk through to figure out defensive adjustments. Those adjustments worked – in a big way.

Western Boone held Park Tudor to just 20 points in the second half, and stunned the Panthers in a 63-55 win to advance to the sectional final on Saturday night.

“I am extremely proud of our girls,” Western Boone head coach Megan Alexander said. “We had some major adjustments to make, and we actually made up a little court in the locker room and went over some of the things that we just weren’t executing very well and our press breaker. There was no give up in our girls.”

The beginning of the comeback started just 12 seconds into the second half.

Lauryn Florey, who had a career-high 26 points, got inside for a three-point play and then hit a 3-pointer on the next possession.

After another stop on defense, Kara Brewer hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to six just 100 seconds into the half.

“We always tell the girls that the most important part of the game is that first few minutes of the third quarter,” Alexander said. “To come out and immediately execute, that gave us life and confidence. From there it was just a snowball effect. It was just exciting.”

Park Tudor was able to hold off the momentum for the rest of the third quarter, and led by 10 heading into the final eight minutes.

But they couldn’t hold off Western Boone for long.

After Park Tudor’s Layla Gold split a pair of free throws to start the quarter, Western Boone went on a 13-0 run to take their first lead of the game since the opening two minutes.

The run was sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers by freshmen Katheryn Rutherford and Emily Conyer.

The two freshmen combined for all 13 of their points in the final 8:20 of the game.

“They grew up a lot in the second half,” Alexander said. “We have been grooming them all year for this moment. They have great senior support on the floor that believe in them and encourage them. They feel confident on the floor knowing those girls have their backs.”

Park Tudor tied the game at 49 with 4:15 to go, but Brewer hit a 3-pointer to give the Stars the lead for good with 4:00 left.

The Panthers got within 52-51 with two free throws on their next possession, but Tori Wilkinson, Florey and Rutherford hit lay-ups on three-straight possessions to seal it.

Wilkinson finished the game with 10 points and 15 rebounds, setting the school record for rebounds in a season, topping her mom’s record.

Florey led three players in double figures with her 26 points, going 9 of 16 from the field. Brewer added 12 and Rutherford eight.

“We have experienced seniors,” Alexander said. “We talked before the game about how other teams are going to try to take away option A, and are going to be all over Kara and Tori. So the other girls need to step up. Lauryn took that to heart tonight.”

Western Boone led 5-2 early, but Park Tudor went on a 25-3 run over the next eight minutes to take a 27-8 lead with 6:42 left in the first half.

A 9-0 Western Boone run got the Stars within 10, but Park Tudor score five points in the last 22 seconds of the second quarter to take a 35-20 lead.

Park Tudor shot 75 percent from the field in the first quarter, and 54.1 percent in the half, turning it over just four times.

But in the second half, the Panthers shot just 21 percent, including just 1 of 8 in the fourth quarter. They turned it over 11 times.

“We switched our personnel a little bet,” Alexander said. “My assistant coach Kallee Rice got in my ear and we wanted to put Katheryn in because she is a good defensive presence. With her in, we could be a little more aggressive on the ball and that was a big move.”

The Stars advance to face Covenant Christian in a rematch of last year’s regional semifinal.

The Warriors upset No. 2 University 54-48 in the other semifinal. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

“I think we can carry this momentum into tomorrow,” Alexander said. “We had a whole week of practice, and we were pretty confident we could win tonight, so we game-planned not just for this game but either Covenant Christian or University too. We know from being on the other side of it the last two years, that records don’t matter when it comes to sectionals. We have been that favored team that was upset. We have belief in our hearts that we can do it and tomorrow night will be exciting to see what we can do.”

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter and Zionsville Times Sentinel. Follow him on Twitter