Lanesville pulls away late to top Trinity in semistate

NEW ALBANY — Every run Lanesville went on Saturday afternoon in the Class A semistate semifinal, the Trinity Lutheran girls basketball team had an answer.

The Cougars scratched and clawed their way into a battle with the eventual state-bound Eagles.

Every time it looked like it was Lanesville’s game to take control of, Trinity made a push to make them uncomfortable. Unfortunately for the Cougars, there wasn’t enough left in the tank down the stretch, and Lanesville was able to slowly pull away for a 56-41 victory.

“Oh my goodness, I’m just so proud of them,” Trinity head coach Mike Lang said. “We got down 10 in the first half, came back and had an and-one. We survived every run except the last one.”

Trinity started the game a little shaky before senior leader Bailey Tabeling got things going for Cougars. Tabeling scored inside, hit two free throws and drilled a 3-pointer to score the team’s first seven points.

Two free throws from Madison Keith gave Trinity its first lead at 9-7 in the first quarter. Lanesville’s forwards, Shelby Allen and Morgan Sonner, both 6-foot-1, started to make their presence felt, and the Eagles were able to regain the lead, 15-11, at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was when Trinity was faced with its first test of adversity. The Cougars were down 10, and then big shots by Keith, Laura Roeder, Jordan Brewer and Liza Froedge brought the team back. The Cougars evened things up at 27 heading into the locker room.

“We really got on a roll right before halftime,” Lang said. “We had a chance to take the lead before halftime and went in tied, and we felt good.”

Lanesville started the second half on a 12-2 run, once again putting the Cougars down double digits. Trinity then responded with an 8-0 run to close the quarter, featuring Roeder and Brewer both completing 3-point plays and Keith making two free throws to make it 39-37 heading into the fourth.

“Our girls busted their butts fronting the post,” Lang said. “They worked so hard today. I couldn’t be more proud.”

It wasn’t until about the 3-minute mark where Lanesville started to pull away and time wasn’t on Trinity’s side. The final score suggests a 15-point victory, but it’s not indicative of how close the game was played.

“We talked all year long that the second half of our schedule would get us ready for a game like today, and it did,” Lang said. “We were a lot better team here today than when we played them the first time (Jan. 10 when Lanesville won 59-30). We were a lot more physical.”

Saturday also wasn’t the typical scoring game from Tabeling, who was hounded by Lanesville’s guards all game long. Tabeling’s seven-point spurt in the first quarter was all she scored, but she also added six rebounds, four assists and two blocks.

Her gravity allowed her teammates to get open looks.

“Ideally, we would’ve loved to put Bailey in the middle of that offense, but their guards are so relentless it would’ve been hard to get her the ball,” Lang said. “She saw the floor outstanding. People are going to look at the box score and think she had a bad game. She had two people on her at all times, hands all over her, and it was a pure fight for her all 32 minutes and she did outstanding.”

Keith led the team with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Roeder scored eight, Brewer had six and Froedge had two.

Saturday also marked the end of the career for Tabeling, who squatted on her knees when the final buzzer sounded, watching Lanesville celebrate and letting the emotion of the moment set in.

Tabeling leaves Trinity Lutheran as a four-time sectional champion, a regional champion, the all-time assists leader and the all-time leading scorer in both school and Jackson County history. Her career will continue at the Division I level at Ohio University this fall.

“She’s an amazing player. We’ve been blessed to have her for four years,” Lang said. “One thing I told her (in the locker room) as we were saying our goodbyes is I’ll be one the biggest Ohio Bobcat fans that there are. It has been a ride having her. She’s special. She’s a generational type player, and we’re blessed to have her.”

Lanesville (27-2) went on to defeat Jac-Cen-Del on Saturday night 45-21 and will play Bethany Christian for the Class A state title on Saturday.

For Trinity (22-7), every player on the roster had tears in their eyes following the loss. The Cougars were disappointed in the outcome, but Lang knows one day, they’ll be able to look back at Saturday at New Albany High School as a positive, bringing the program’s first regional title this season to get to this point and putting up a battle with one of the two state finalists.

“We’re going to look back one day and say this was special, this was fun,” Lang said. “The support we had from the school, from the community, this is the first regional title in boys and girls since 1991 in Seymour, and I don’t want to make it the last.”