PORTER TWP. — It's never easy when it ends, especially when it's been fun as the three months have been for Boone Grove.
You could read it on the faces of the Wolves players after Class 2A No. 6 North Judson brought their bounce back season to a screeching halt in Friday's Class 2A Boone Grove Sectional semifinals, 63-34.
"The ending kind of sucked, but this season's been fabulous, the best season I've ever had," a watery-eyed Rachel Wilkening said. "I wouldn't trade my teammates for the world. I waited four years for a team like this and we finally got it. It's a tough loss any way (it happens). I'm so proud of our team."
Winamac turned Hebron aside 48-36 in the other semifinal.
The Porter County Conference round-robin co-champion Wolves were no match for a 20-2 Bluejays squad whose only losses were by two points to LaPorte and six to Kankakee Valley.
Directed by do-it-all freshman guard Lillian Frasure (17 points, seven assists, five rebounds, four steals), North Judson excelled in the half court and in transition both offensively and defensively.
"I can't think of the other teams we played, but I would say they're right up there," Wilkening said. "They're very good."
North Judson shook off a slow start that saw it go 3:34 before scoring, using a 15-2 run to turn a 6-0 deficit into a 15-8 lead. It was a five-point game in the second quarter when the Jays rattled off 11 in a row to go up 16.
Scoreless in the first half, Wilkening shook loose for eight of her team-high 14 points in the third quarter, but there was no matching the trio of Frasure and the post duo of Madeline Schumacher (18 points) and Lauren Cox (17).
Mackenzie Cantwell had 10 points for Boone (19-4), but it was a tough night for the back court as the Wolves committed 21 turnovers and struggled to score from the perimeter against the Jays' trapping pressure.
"We fought hard," Wilkening said. "We made some bad plays. We didn't execute as well as we would've liked to."
Hebron (7-14) was in chase mode all game against Winamac (15-9), never losing sight of the Warriors, but never seriously threatening them either. The Hawks inched within six inside the last four minutes at 38-32, but an 8-0 Winamac counter ended it.
"I was hoping we'd hit a shot to get a quick timeout, but it didn't go our way," Hebron coach Doug Godbolt said. "We had five days to prepare, so I felt pretty confident with the bye that we could get to the championship game."
Freshman Laini Joseph had other plans, pouring in 24 points, including 11 in a third quarter highlighted by a string of three 3s.
Hebron was 6 of 15 at the line, while Winamac missed just two of its 16 foul shots, an eight-point difference in a 12-point game.
"We knew she'd be a factor," Godbolt said of Joseph. "We thought we had a pretty good game plan. We just didn't hit our free throws again and we turned the ball over eight, nine times in the first quarter, and that set the table. We've struggled all season with free throws and turnovers. We've got a lot of young guards and trying to get freshmen and sophomores to play at the varsity level is a work in progress."
Allison Hano had nine points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks. Katlyn Cherry had eight points and three steals.