In a game that pitted sisters Donetta Ohnesorge of Dieterich and Carolyn Wendte of CHBC against one another, it was the coaches' centers that stole the show Monday night.
Dieterich's Candace Niemerg and CHBC's Micah Jones each scored 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the Altamont Sectional semifinal, going toe-to-toe to try and advance to Thursday's final.
It was Jones and the Lady Hornets, however, who would have the last laugh. CHBC opened up an 18-9 lead after one quarter and never looked back, besting Dieterich 65-46 in front of a sold-out crowd at Altamont.
Though Jones filled out her fair share of the score sheet by game's end, it was Lady Hornets' guard Ava Paruleski who dominated the first quarter. After Jones started the scoring with an easy lay-up, Paruleski hit back-to-back three-pointers to put CHBC ahead 8-0.
"[Ava] was ready to play," Wendte said. "Ava does a lot of things very well, as the point guard she leads the team."
With an early cushion, it was time for Jones and Niemerg to battle down low. The two would combine to score six straight baskets as the first quarter came to a close. Niemerg bested Jones with a nice up-and-under in the paint to pull Dieterich within five, only to have Jones score on a tough left-handed lay-up and coast-to-coast drive following a defensive rebound.
Following yet another Niemerg bucket off an offensive rebound, the senior displayed more of her offensive arsenal with a spin around Jones in the post for a nice bucket to bring Dieterich within four at 13-9.
Jones answered the next trip down the floor, giving Niemerg the slip at the top of the key for a uncontested shot at the hoop. With the clock winding down minutes later, Jones drove to the baseline and kicked out to Paruleski who hit her third and final three-pointer of the game to make it an 18-9 ballgame.
"Micah is good," Wendte said, "but Ava keeps this team moving, she keeps Micah under control."
CHBC continued to stretch the lead in the second period. Time and again, Jones grabbed a rebound following a Dieterich miss and immediately looked to push the ball up the floor.
Behind her aggressiveness to attack the length of the floor, the Lady Hornets built a 31-15 lead with three minutes to play.
"Micah could be a guard if I would let her," Wendte said, "but I need her down there to rebound. We like to run, we wanted to push the tempo with her."
Jones found foul trouble late in the half, and sat the final two minutes after recording her second personal. Dieterich scored six points in her absence, the final coming on a Niemerg spin to the hoop to make it a 33-20 game at the break.
"If we have to take one of those two girls out," Ohnesorge said, "the other will dominate on the inside. Those two have been battling since junior high school."
Though the game was never in any real danger, Dieterich came up fired up in the third quarter. The Lady Maroons scored six quick points in the opening 90 seconds, and CHBC's lead was 33-26.
"I tried to tell them we weren't out of this game," Ohnesorge said. "We just had to clean up our passing game, be strong with the ball."
Unfortunately for the Lady Maroons, the turnovers began to pile up. Dieterich turned the ball over 11 times in the third, as CHBC responded to the early push by scoring eight of the quarter's final 10 points to extend its lead to 15.
Jones scored on a pair of free throws after driving the length of the floor for a hard foul, and Paruleski scored immediately after with a nice up-and-under lay-up. Jones added two more free throws before Niemerg would briefly end the CHBC run with a putback. But Jones proved to be too much, jumping in front of a lazy Dieterich pass to cruise for a basket and give CHBC a 45-30 lead with one quarter to play.
"Micah was a little bit scared early in the game when she picked up those fouls," Wendte said. "She played smart the rest of the game. We need her, even if Candace scores, for Micah's rebounding."
Dieterich would never really challenge in the final period, as CHBC outscored the Lady Maroons 20-16 in the final frame to pick up its 19-point win. The loss marked the end of two brilliant Dieterich careers for Niemerg and fellow senior Katilyn Meinhart. Ohnesorge had nothing but praise for her two leaders following the end of Dieterich's 17-12 season.
"[Meinhart] is an offensive threat, I think she really lifted the team with her three-pointers in the regional," she said."She's a fun kid to be around, and Candace is one of those girls has played some of the best basketball around. She's ready to move on to bigger and better things."
Paruleski finished with 19 big points to add to Jones's 27, and Kirby Herrmann chipped in with six points for the Lady Hornets. The win improves CHBC's record to 24-5 overall, with the Lady Hornets returning to action in Thursday's Altamont Sectional final against Central A&M.
When asked about meeting up following the game, Wendte and Ohnesorge couldn't help but become a little emotional.
"I just felt sorry that one of us had to lose," Wendte said. "She's taking it better than I am, I was sick all day."
"We said before the game we didn't want to meet like this," Ohnesorge added. "It is what it is, we lost to a good team tonight."
CHBC 65, Dieterich 46
CHBC 18 15 12 20 - 65
Dieterich 9 11 10 16 - 46
CHBC- Jones 27, Paruleski 19, Herrmann 6, Morrison 4, Riley 4, Hilt 2, Miller 2, Ward 1.
Dieterich- Niemerg 27, Higgs 10, Wright 5, Vahling 4.