Longhorns hang on to make final


MONTGOMERY | Marengo Academy enjoyed a double-digit lead for most of its AISA Class A girls semifinal against Patrician on Wednesday morning.

The fourth quarter was a different matter.

After leading by as many as 13 points, the Longhorns held off Patrician for a 45-41 victory to earn the school’s first trip to a girls championship game in basketball. They will face two-time state champion Lakeside at 6 tonight at Huntingdon College’s Dixon Arena.

Chandler Stenz hit a key 3-pointer and also nailed all four of her free-throw attempts in the final minute for the Longhorns. The 3 came after Patrician had cut the Marengo lead to 36-34 with just over two minutes left. She finished with 11 points.

"I was in that situation before, last year," Stenz said. "So I had a little bit of experience knowing I had to make them."

Marengo Academy had enjoyed a big advantage from the opening tip, leading 16-3 after the first quarter and holding a 10-point lead at halftime. The Lady Saints were held to four field goals in the first half.

"Our defense was a lot better in the first half," Marengo coach Danny Stenz said. "It was our main goal to stop (Gabby George), but we didn’t get out on the switch like we needed to in the second half.

"We were getting a lot of shots inside that we didn’t get later on. It all played a role in it being a tight game late."

George was limited to three points in the first half, but she caught fire in the second, scoring 11 points in the third quarter. She did not have a field goal in the fourth but did hit five free throws. She missed two 3-point attempts that would have given Patrician the lead inside a minute to play.

She finished with a game-high 19 points but was the only player for Patrician (18-12) in double figures.

"We have five or six girls who can score, and I think that was the difference," Danny Stenz said. "We knew who they would go to."

Brooke Smyly led the Longhorns (25-2) with 17 points. She also had a key made free throw in the fourth quarter.

"It’s exciting to get a chance to win a championship in basketball," Smyly said. "We knew this would be tough because we had played a close game with them earlier."

Tonight, Marengo Academy will face one of the AISA’s most successful girls basketball programs in Lakeside. The Chiefs won Class AA titles the last two seasons.

"It will be a challenge," Danny Stenz said. "They’ve had a lot of success. But we’ve been here three years in a row. These girls have won the championship in junior high. They’ve been playing together a lot."