Penn girls fall one game shy of returning to state finals
VALPARAISO, Ind. - Just four teams in each class entered the weekend with state title hopes still alive. Penn girls basketball was one of those teams, but the 4A Semi-State round proved to be the final step for the Lady Kingsmen.
They fell to Zionsville 53-45 on Saturday, ending the season one game shy of the state championship game.
"Nobody expected us to win this game, and nobody expected us to go this far in the tournament either," said senior guard Sara Doi following her final game. "Just proving them wrong and getting to this point is huge."
While Doi and fellow senior Tia Chambers led the team, Penn's roster leans heavily toward youth, which was one silver lining of the heartbreaking loss.
"I'm very proud. As a team we were confident and kept pushing. We gave it our all," said Chambers. "We made it easy for them to just learn from this. Next season they can hopefully take this and correct the things we didn't do this season."
Head coach Kristi Ulrich echoed those thoughts, hoping that the bright lights of this season were a lesson to the younger players going forward.
"Our seniors really lead the way and showing all the younger kids in our program what it's all about to compete at an extremely high level," she said. "They had the opportunity to play on a really big stage in multiple games this season, and really figured out a way to weather the storm in a lot of situations, but we just didn't have enough to get the job done today."
After the sting of the loss wears off, Ulrich said motivation will be high for the Lady Kingsmen heading to the next
"It's unfortunate we came up one game shy of the state title game, but hopefully this makes the younger kids a lot hungrier for the future to know exactly what it takes to get back to this stage."
In other semi-state action, Fairfield girls hoops were taken out by Northwestern, the number one team in 3A. The Falcons fell 70-43, ending the most successful season in school history. For a team that had only won a couple sectionals ever, nine seniors led Fairfield to another sectional title, plus its first regional championship en route to the first semi-state appearance.
In 1A, Marquette Catholic stormed past Tri-Central 58-18. The Blazers will meet Vincennes Rivet in the state championship game.