WHEATFIELD — After Saturday night, lone Kankakee Valley senior Lindsay Stokes may be called four eyes even though she doesn't wear glasses on the court.
She made the play of the game after the Kougars came out with the ball with under a minute left, as she took the inbounds pass and avoided being fouled with a spin move around two Valpo defenders.
She then rifled a cross court pass to Sarah Martin, who laid it up for two, sealing K.V.'s 64-55 win over Valparaiso and getting the program its first-ever sectional title in Class 4A.
"We've been up here three years now and I didn't know if we did belong up here or not, but now after (Saturday) it's a definite yes," said Kougars coach Ryan Myers, who won his second sectional title. "Lindsay wasn't gonna lose this game. She's the calming factor being the only senior."
Winners of nine straight, Kankakee Valley (21-3) came out on fire, as it hit four of its first six shots on its way to a 15-6 run to open the game.
"I've always come up as a point guard and as a freshman and sophomore, I had great scorers to pass the ball to," said Stokes, who finished with 16 points and seven assists.
Winners of four straight coming into the game, Valparaiso (15-11) called a timeout and ran off the next seven points to cut the lead to two at the end of the first quarter.
K.V. junior Sarah Martin scored seven of the team's 15 first quarter points.
Valpo took advantage in the beginning of the second quarter by hitting three of its first five shots to start, including a sequence in which senior forward Taelynn Oelling grabbed three offensive rebounds in a row before nailing a layup in traffic down on the block.
The Kougars used a 9-2 run midway through the second quarter to build their lead back up to six at the half, 37-29.
The Vikings fiercely came out and scored the first four points on back-to-back possessions to start the second half, but 24 turnovers and a couple missed free throws down the stretch were the causes of their demise.
Valpo senior Ariana Gerdt, who scored her 1000th career point, ended with game highs of 26 points and 11 boards.
Oelling contributed 14 points, eight boards and three steals for the Vikings.
"I'm proud of our kids," Valpo coach Candy Wilson said. "We didn't stop them as much defensively and had heavy feet and just ran out of gas."
The Kougars avenged a 63-45 loss to Valpo back on Nov. 7.
"We belong in 4A," said Martin, who scored a Kougar-high 24 points. "We tried focusing on rebounding more and kept our composure much better."
With the win, the Kougars advance to the LaPorte Regional on Saturday.
"This is a group that doesn't know how to roll over," said Myers. "We have athletes who love to compete and this whole thing starts with great kids and great coaches."