SULLIVAN – Paris showed why they are the No. 1 team in Class 2A Thursday, although Sullivan stayed with them for the first half.
The Tigers held Sullivan to just 4-of-17 shooting in the third quarter to take a 50-31 lead. Paris went on to win its first regional since 2017 (in Class 3A) with a 71-46 triumph.
Paris was 23-of-37 (.621) from the field and 21-of-27 (.778) from the free throw line in the game.
“We have got girls that all year long have made shots like that,” said Paris coach David Tingley. “Sarah Isaf is automatic when she shoots. She is a Division I player that is going to play Division III basketball. Her injury last year was a detrimental to that, but she is a fantastic player along with the other girls that we have. She is really a girl that carries us. She got some excellent shots early and so did Madyson Rigdon. We have all kinds of girls that can score from the perimeter.”
Paris (33-0) plays St. Joseph-Ogden Monday in its own sectional semifinals at 7:30 p.m. St. Joseph beat Villa Grove/Heritage Thursday, 50-34, to advance to the sectional.
“This is the first step and the next one is the sectional,” said Tingley.
Sullivan finished the season 22-7 and Sullivan seniors Avery Still and Katie O'Neil completed their careers with a 78-37 (.678) record, two regional titles and two Sweet 16 appearances.
Paris led 27-20 with 2:06 left in the first half when Karrington Krabel had a three-point play and Rigdon scored the final points of the half. Kelsie Crampton continued the run with the first points of the second half and another three-point play by Krabel pushed the lead to 37-20. Sullivan didn’t get closer than 15 the rest of the game.
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“Our shots were not falling for us and we were battling,” said Sullivan coach Sheri McCain. “I told the girls I was just so proud of their fight. Paris is a good team. There is a reason why they are undefeated. Those girls play really well together and they look for each other. Most of them are seniors and you can tell that. I was proud of the girls for not giving up and that shows we got kids coming back next year that want it.”
Sullivan was 17-of-58 (.293) against the Paris man-to-man defense, including 8-of-35 (.229) in the middle two quarters and Paris was able to take advantage scoring on transition baskets.
“I came and scouted Sullivan three times and respected them,” said Tingley. “That is what I told the girls ‘respect them, this is a good team.’ We looked at their tendencies and Rigdon has been guarding the opponent’s best player all year long. Crampton did an awesome job and we switched her Krable. They did an awesome job on her (Still) and she still made some amazing shots. Credit to her because she is an amazing athlete.”
The Tigers have had just two games decided by 10 points or less and both were in the Charleston Holiday Tournament when they beat Class 3A Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 61-55 and won the title beating Teutopolis 44-35.
Sullivan’s Lilly Null came out and scored the first five points of the game before Paris’ Krabel scored. Null scored again for a 7-4 lead when Jenna Gates tied the game at seven with a three-pointer. The Tigers took an 11-7 advantage on a three-pointer by Rigdon when Sullivan’s Avery Still ended the Paris 11-2 run with a bucket.
“Early on, I thought our defense did a good job of locking them down and making them work,” said McCain. “I had seen them hit upwards of 10 three-pointers in a game and we limited them to four tonight. I thought we didn’t do a good job of protecting the paint and they got transition buckets a couple of times. “
Isaf scored the last five points of the first, including a 3-pointer from the right side for a 16-12 Tiger lead.
Isaf led Paris with 20 points, while Rigdon had 19 and Krabel had 13. Sullivan was led in scoring by White with 16. Null added 15 and Still finished with 10.
Advancing in the 3-point contest to the sectional championship Thursday at Paris are Katelyn Littlejohn and Isaf, along with Marshall's Kai Engledow and Shelbyville's Macy Owens.
Contact Mike Monahan at (217)-238-6854. Follow him on Twitter: @monahanmikejgtc