WESTFIELD, Ind. -- Posted on the door leading to the Westfield High School girls basketball team locker room are two signs: "Unfinished Business 2013" and "Caution, Teamwork Ahead."
Saturday night at the Class 4A Sectional 8 championship, the Shamrocks took care of the business at hand by downing Hamilton Southeastern 37-35. Westfield (21-2) will play Fort Wayne South (21-3) at approximately noon in a Kokomo Regional semifinal. Fort Wayne Snider and Logansport will play in the 10 a.m. semifinal, with the championship game at 8 p.m.
The game came down to the final 6 seconds of what HSE coach Chris Huppenthal likened to "a heavyweight boxing match, Ali verses Frazier."
Westfield junior Kayla Brown drew a foul as she drove to the basket after Royals senior standout Taya Reimer scored to tie the score. Brown hit both free throws, giving her 11 points and her team the lead.
"It was nerve-wracking," the 6-2 guard said. "I just focused on my fundamentals for free throw shooting and ignored everything around me."
Westfield coach Shane Sumpter said he knew this was going to be a great game against a great program.
"I figured it might come down to who had the ball last," the fifth-year Shamrocks coach said. "We were fortunate enough to get a couple of free throws and make a stop."
He was partly right. After the made free throw, HSE inbounded the ball but lost control of it and time ran out.
Westfield opened the game with a 9-3 run, spanning the first quarter. From then on, neither team strung together a run of more than five points.
Eighteen of Westfield's points came in the paint, while HSE was held to 10. A factor was the defensive scheme deployed on HSE senior Reimer, a University of Notre Dame recruit.
"They were packing it in down low on us trying to double-team Taya and (Jessica) Pongonis inside and leaving the parameter open," Huppenthal said. "We talked about it at halftime to try and be more patient and move the ball around to get their defense to move around and try to find some opening inside."
When the ball got to Reimer in the post, the Shamrocks doubled- and, at times, triple-teamed her. She was held to eight points.
"We had to give a lot of team attention to her," Sumpter said. "Kayla Brown did a great job on her and we tried to limit her touches inside."
Brown said it was a team effort in limiting Reimer. She said center Jenn Anderson, an Indiana recruit, helped seal off the paint when Reimer was attempting to post-up or drive to the basket.
"We knew in the summer this was going to be a special team," Anderson said. "We are not done. The journey is just beginning."