The celebration by members of the Mt.Vernon girls basketball team following their 54-49 win over Indian Creek on Saturday was mild considering the team had just won its second straight Class 3A regional championship.
To start, the No. 6 Marauders were simply wiped out following a pair of physical contests at Danville High School. Mt. Vernon (21-4) survived No. 14 Indian Creek (20-6) storming back from a 12-point deficit inside the final minute to trail by just three with 7.8 seconds remaining. That contest followed the morning semifinal in which the Marauders edged top-ranked Lebanon (21-4) 45-44. Indian Creek (20-6) handled Greencastle (15-10) 53-39 inthe day's other semifinal. Mt. Vernon will face Rushville (22-3) in Saturday'ssemistate.
"It took a lot of energy out of us beating Lebanon," said Mt. Vernon coach Julie Shelton. "I think that's part of the reason there's not a lot of (celebrating). We're just worn out. It's been a long day and it took a lot of energy to get through these two."
Another reason for the tempered smiles and quiet high fives was because Mt. Vernon isn't satisfied with just a regional title. This year,the expectations are high following a state finals appearance last year that ended with a three-point loss.
"We have unfinished business," said freshman guard SydneyShelton. "We know this game is behind us now and we have to move on to the next game. We just have to be mentally prepared. That's going to be a big game."
Sydney Shelton - the coach's niece - scored 20 points for Mt. Vernon, including knocking down a pair of clutch free throws facing a one-and-one situation with 4.7 seconds remaining and the Marauders clinging to a perilous 52-49 lead following the Braves' nine-point outburst.
Mt. Vernon 6-foot center Erica Moore dominated the post, leading all scorers with 23 points, including 12 in the final period.
Indian Creek trailed 7-0 to start the game but came back to take a 14-12 lead at the end of the first behind an attacking Ally Lehman, who scored all five of her points in the quarter from the foul line. Sydney Shelton was red hot in the half, scoring 11.
Lehman, a Northern Illinois recruit, left midway through the second quarter with a knee injury and Indian Creek struggled without her, scoring just four points to the Marauders' 17 in the quarter.
"It was an emotional letdown," Burkman said. "Their confidence went...down the tank."
Candace Danz led Indian Creek with 13 points. Lehman returned and finished with 12. Brooke Mathena and Alexis McGregor both scored11.
Moore scored 12 for Mt. Vernon in the game against Lebanon and Shelton added 10.
"That was a heck of a ballgame," Julie Shelton said of the Lebanon game. "There were tons of lead changes and back and forth. We just hungin there and happened to pull it off."