Christian Heritage - 58
#3 Cashion LadyCats - 51
Seven points was all that separated the Cashion LadyCats and the eventual Class 2A state champion. The #3 LadyCats fell to Christian Heritage Academy 58-51 in the state semifinal game Friday night in Yukon.
The unranked Lady Crusaders went on to pull off one of the most improbable tournament runs in recent memory, defeating #2 Howe, #3 Cashion and #1 Dale en route to their first ever Class 2A title.
However the fact that Christian Heritage went on to win the title doesn't soften the blow for the LadyCats. In fact, it twists the knife a bit more.
The first half was arguably their worst half of basketball this season. From turnovers and missed shots to Presley Payahsape and Addi Meeker getting in foul trouble, the Cashion offense sputtered out of the gate. Some of that was due to the athleticism of the Lady Crusaders. Christian Heritage's zone defense was near perfect in the first 16 minutes as they held Cashion to just 12 first half points.
Cashion's offense found its footing in the second half, but their defense failed to pick up stops. The LadyCats opened the third quarter on a 6-0 run to pull within three but CHA hit a three to push the lead back to six. That theme continued as Cashion tried to claw their way back.
Meeker opened the fourth quarter knocking down back-to-back threes but CHA responded with baskets on the other end after each make. Cashion would get no closer than five points in the fourth quarter. The loss ended Cashion's season one game away from their goal.
"It's tough when you put in a lot of time and effort in hopes of accomplishing something and you come up short," Cashion Head Coach Ronnie Maple said. "These girls wanted something so bad and tonight wasn't our night. CHA is a really good basketball team. They are really athletic and it was tough to get adjusted to. We didn't play very well. We got in foul trouble in that first half and I thought we came out in the second half and played a lot better, but we weren't very aggressive which isn't us."
The LadyCats end the season 25-4. They lose Addi Meeker, Rylee Broadbent and Brenna Jenkins. Broadbent Jenkins finish their careers playing in three state tournaments and appearing in one state title game. Maple says they are what embody what Cashion basketball is all about.
"I'm extremely proud of the seniors," Maple said. "I'm extremely proud of this season. We were one game away from going back to the finals again. They battled and worked their tails off every day. They are what Cashion basketball is all about. I am so proud of them, I cant' say it enough."