By KEVIN HARRIS
CLARKSVILLE – Class 2A No. 4 Providence came up short of 3-peating as Class 2A sectional champions Saturday evening at the Larkin Center.
Eastern captured its first sectional title since 2014 and third in school history, defeating the Pioneers in the Class 2A Providence girls’ basketball sectional championship game 44-34. The Musketeers (19-7) will face South Knox (14-13) at about noon in the second semifinal of the Class 2A Paoli Regional next Saturday. The Spartans won the North Knox Sectional final Saturday night against Linton-Stockton 51-26.
Trailing 19-13 at halftime, Eastern came out on fire in the second half. The Musketeers scored the first five points of the third quarter on a baseline jumper by senior Taylor Drury and a 3-pointer from junior Veronica Johnson to cut their deficit to 19-18 with about six minutes left in the period.
The momentum Eastern received from the early spurt allowed it to outscore the Pioneers (20-6) in the period 13-5 and take a 26-24 lead at the end of the third.
The Musketeers went up 33-27 with 6:09 left in the fourth as Judson banked in a shot. But Providence answered with seven consecutive points to get the lead back at 34-33 with four minutes remaining.
After that, it was all Eastern. The Musketeers sewed up the sectional title by reeling off 11 unanswered points to end the game.
Senior Claire Rauck led the Pioneers with 11 points despite shooting 4-of-12 from the field and 2-of-9 from 3-point range. Providence junior forward Hannah Wolford had 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Judson was Eastern’s top scorer with a game-high 17 points. Musketeer junior Rachel Stewart tallied 15 points. Eastern freshman guard Isabell Claywell grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Drury had 10 boards.
Saturday marked the third time the squads have played each other this season. The Pioneers won the first two meetings. They defeated the Musketeers on Nov. 19 at the Larkin Center 53-48. On Dec. 30 in Vincennes, Providence downed Eastern in the seventh-place game of the Niehaus Classic 43-39.
CLASS 2A PROVIDENCE SECTIONAL
EASTERN 44, PROVIDENCE 34
Eastern 4 9 13 18-44
Providence 12 7 5 10-34
Eastern (19-7): Veronica Judson 17, Rachel Stewart 15, Taylor Drury 6, Holly Purlee 4, Savannah Emmert 2, Isabell Claywell 0, Caylee Graves 0.
Providence (20-6): Claire Rauck 11, Hannah Wolford 10, Olivia Jenkins 7, Cheyenne Brooks 4, Mia Fougerousse 2, Kelsi Ernstberger 0, Brooke Hayden 0, Sydney Milliner 0.
3-point field goals: Eastern 4 (Judson 3, Purlee 1); Providence 3 (Rauck 2, Wolford 1).
Rebounds: Eastern 36 (Claywell 11); Providence 18 (Wolford 9).
Turnovers: Eastern 21, Providence 12.
Total fouls: Eastern 8, Providence 19.
Fouled out: Rauck.