CEDAR LAKE | It just took a little while to get started.
Kankakee Valley took a 71-58 win over Andrean in Saturday's Class 3A Hanover Central sectional championship despite a sluggish start.
Andrean (8-14) controlled the early going with its defense. K.V.'s Bethany Jansma, who averaged 15 points per game in the regular season and scored 21 in the Kougars' semifinal win, was held to just three points in the first quarter and touched the ball only a handful of times.
The Niners led by as many as seven but didn't score in the last three minutes of the first quarter, and the advantage was only 12-11 after eight minutes. Andrean was clearly trying to get the ball into the post to 6-foot-1 center Haley Hrosik.
"We know (Andrean's size) is one things we have to be ready for tomorrow night, to match that," Kougars coach Ryan Myers said Friday night. "We really wanted to attack the glass. We've been working on that a lot this week."
Momentum swung back and forth in the second frame before the Kougars (14-6) took over late. A 9-1 run to end the first half propelled Kankakee Valley to a 36-31 lead at the break. Jansma was a major part of that run and finished with nine first-half points.
Breanna Toppen kept the Kougars alive early, though. The sophomore led all scorers with 15 at halftime. She would score 27 for the game.
Kankakee Valley pulled away in the third quarter. Andrean cut the lead to one twice, but the Kougars never trailed again.
"(K.V.) is good. We played them earlier in the season, and we had a hard time containing them," Andrean coach Tony Scheub said Friday night. "Our defense is going to have to step up again, but I think we're ready for it."
The K.V. senior class had won only a single postseason game before this year. It's the Kougars' first sectional title since 2005.
"The past two years, we came out and didn't play so good (in the playoffs)," Jansma said Friday night. "It's our senior year this year, so I just wanted to give everything I had."
Jansma finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Lauren Stokes added 18 and 10.
Lauren Stazinski paced Andrean with 17.