ROCHESTER | Until Saturday night, the Kankakee Valley girls’ basketball program had never played in a regional championship game.
But the Kougars accomplished that goal, but came short of a regional championship as Western ran away with a 46-35 win.
Bethany Jansma led K.V. with 10 points in the loss.
“I thought our kids battled, it’s just bad to have an off-night on offense (in the postseason),” Kougars coach Ryan Myers said. “Some of that is credit to (Western). They played a great defensive game, but I thought we had a lot of mental errors.
“I love the kids’ effort tonight. They came out and battled for 32 minutes, and that’s all we ask. It’s unfortunate that things had to end the way they did, but credit to our kids for how they played tonight, they did a good job.”
Kankakee Valley (16-7) shot just 23 percent (12-for-53) from the floor and 3-for-14 (21 percent) from 3-point range. The Kougars were held to two points in the third quarter.
K.V. lead early, but Western battled back quickly and took the lead for good with just over a minute left in the first quarter. The Panthers were 5-for-10 from 3-point range in the first half and led by 10 at halftime.
The Kougars rallied late in the second quarter with a 7-0 run, but a turnover led to a Western layup just before the halftime buzzer, shifting the momentum back to the Panthers.
“We’d make a little run and then, credit to a good team, they’d come right back at us and make a run of their own to keep pushing it,” Myers said. “I thought we had chances tonight, I thought our kids played hard, but we just had a lot of shots that didn’t fall tonight. Postseason, if you don’t shoot the ball well, it’s going to be a short one.”
Kankakee Valley had won the program’s first sectional title since 2005 before beating Griffith 54-34 Saturday morning to advance to its first-ever regional championship.
“First time in nine years that we won a sectional, and that was a goal from Day 1, was to win a sectional,” Myers said. “These kids did that. I was just super proud of the effort. Even though we didn’t come out on top, I’m super proud of these kids.”