A tale of two halves
UNION MILLS — Through two quarters of Thursday night’s pivotal Porter County Conference matchup, South Central guard Abbie Tomblin had one more shot attempt than the Satellites had points in the second frame against co-leader Hebron.
Tomblin picked up two first-half fouls, and just like the Satellites did after falling behind by 12 points in the second period, she entered the half scoreless. The home side missed all eight shots in the second and 18 of their 22 total shots for the entire half to trail 21-9 at the intermission.
Led by their star freshman, the Satellites (13-4, 5-1 PCC) roared back t and fended off the Hawks (11-6, 4-2) with a 33-17 second half to take sole control of the PCC with just one conference game left (LaCrosse on Jan. 25 at home) to wrap up the round-robin title.
“I gotta give credit to Abbie Tomblin,” Satellites coach Wes Bucher said after the close call. “As a freshman, she just came out and took over in the second half.”
Tomblin was 0-of-1 from the field with the two fouls entering the game’s final 16 minutes and the third quarter was her own personal exhibition, scoring nine points in a quarter where the Satellites outscored the Hawks 15-6 and closed the gap to just three at 27-24. Tomblin was a key entity on both ends of the floor, leading the home team with 13 points, while dishing out a team-high four assists, swiping three steals and grabbing three rebounds, all while guarding Katlyn Cherry, one of the conference’s toughest matchups as a lead guard.
“I was looking forward to guarding her and I like a challenge,” Tomblin said after holding Cherry to 11 points for Hebron on 3-of-9 shooting. “I like playing man defense more than the 1-3-1 (zone). I was excited to play man defense because we haven’t played man defense in a couple games. I think defense most of the time is more important than offense.”
With Tomblin catching fire, getting to the rim virtually at will and doing everything to contain Cherry defensively, the Satellites used their length and tough man-to-man defense to frustrate the Hawks into seven third-quarter turnovers, the same amount they had in the previous two quarters combined. On top of their 10 steals, the Satellites blocked seven shots and held the Hawks to just six made field goals in the second half.
″(Abbie’s) naturally a good on-the-ball defender,” Bucher said. “She’s do a good job anticipating moves and she can get a tip on a pass once in a while. She did a good job on Cherry, who I think might be the best point guard in our conference.”
Tomblin’s monster third, along with five key points from Faith Biggs that included a banked-in triple, got the Satellites back into it and provided all the spark they needed down the stretch.
The Satellites took a 32-31 deficit with 5:08 to play and outscored the Hawks 10-6 the rest of the way on the back of a pair of Tomblin buckets, five more vital points from Delanie Gale off the bench and a sequence where Amber Wolf stole the ball in the paint, pushed it to Tomblin, who made a pretty pass to Lexy Wade for a score plus the foul with 2:08 to play that almost felt like a backbacker for the Hawks.
“I know (Abbie’s) excited, but I’m beyond elated for her, too,” Bucher said. “You always hope for that. When you were the kid in school, you always want to be that person, so I’m excited for her to have the opportunity to have a night like that.”
Reach Michael Whitlow at email@example.com or (219) 214-4169. Follow him on Twitter @couldbelikemike.
South Central 42, Hebron 38
Satellite Abbie Tomblin scored a game-high 13 points all in the final two quarters.