Lapel girls hoops falls to Wapahani

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SELMA — With five minutes remaining, the Lapel Bulldogs seemed poised to win their 18th game of the season and spoil senior night at Wapahani.

But two Raiders seniors took over in the closing moments and dealt Lapel its first loss of the season against a 2A opponent.

Kaci Mangus and Haley Strombeck scored all of the Raider points during a game ending 12-2 run, as Wapahani handed Lapel a 53-48 defeat in its final game of the regular season Tuesday.

Lapel fell to 17-5 on the season and will begin preparations for sectional play which, for the Bulldogs, will begin Friday, Feb. 3, in the Monroe Central sectional semifinals.

Lapel stormed back from a 16-8 deficit early in the second quarter as senior Samantha Kern scored to cap a 10-1 run for an 18-17 lead. The two teams went back and forth before junior Bree Boles buried a long 3-point jumper in the closing moment of the half to take a 26-24 lead into the locker room.

Coach John Willis said the Bulldogs did a good job of withstanding the early emotional play of Wapahani on senior night.

“There was emotion,” he said. “They came out and made some big shots. They banked in a 3-pointer to start the game and banked in a runner later in the first quarter. Our kids didn’t put their heads down, they kept playing. This is a fun group of kids to coach.”

Lapel seemed to take control in the third quarter, with the lead growing to seven at 34-27 on a layup from Boles.

But the game became a see-saw affair after that shot.

The Raiders scored seven straight to tie the game at 34, but Lapel outscored Wapahani (13-10) 8-3 the remainder of the period to enter the fourth quarter with a 42-37 lead on a rebound basket by senior Tylor Wyant.

Wyant again gave Lapel a 5-point lead at 46-41 on another put back with five minutes remaining. But two season-long weaknesses came back to bite the Bulldogs during the closing few minutes.

“What’s been hounding us all year,” Willis asked rhetorically. “Turnovers and giving up offensive rebounds. When you’ve got a team down, and you give up an offensive rebound and they score, it’s kind of deflating.”

Strombeck, who scored five of her 10 points in the final moments, converted a 3-point play and, following back-to-back Bulldog turnovers, Mangus hit a 3-point shot off an offensive rebound to give Wapahani its first lead since the second quarter at 47-46.

Lapel took the lead right back on a top-of-the-key-jumper from senior Mallory Willis, but the lead was short lived as Mangus stole the ball on the next Bulldog possession and scored on a layup. She then hit a pair of free throws for a 51-48 Raider advantage.

Lapel had one more chance to possibly tie the game, but Strombeck stole an inbounds pass and took it in for a layup as the closing seconds ticked away.

The Bulldogs turned over the ball 17 times and, despite a size advantage, were outrebounded 28-22. The Raiders scored 10 second-chance points, five in the fourth quarter.

Boles led Lapel with 15 points and eight rebounds, and Willis scored 10. Freshman Makynlee Taylor, who made her return after missing 15 games with a stress fracture, scored five points and had two steals.

If the Bulldogs want payback, they may not have to wait long. Their semifinal game next Friday will be against the winner of the first-round game between Muncie Burris and Wapahani on Tuesday. The Raiders will be highly favored.

“They did a lot of good things to make us make mistakes,” Willis said. “I’m not going to take anything away from them. But, will I tell them that we owe them one? Yeah, I will. I think this group will work hard, and we’ll find the right buttons to make sure they battle through every minute of the next game.”

The junior varsity Bulldogs also fell to Wapahani by a 24-22 score Tuesday. Freshman Zoe Freer scored 15 points, sophomore Morghyn Gephardt had six rebounds, sophomore Kara Lutz handed out two assists, and sophomore Paige Rich had four steals and three blocked shots.

Lapel’s second-round semifinal game at Monroe Central is scheduled to begin at about 7:30 p.m.

Frankton will play the winner of the other first-round game between Monroe Central and Sheridan.

Sectional tickets

Sectional Tickets for the Monroe Central girls basketball Sectional No. 40 will be on sale in the main office at Lapel High School starting at noon Wednesday.

They will remain on sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through Thursday, Feb. 2.
Tickets cost $10 for the all-session pass.