With a win Tuesday, the Alma Airedalettes were able to do their part on Senior Night.
The Airedalettes are now hoping to get the chance to return home next week for the 5A State Tournament.
Robin Stewart, one of the seniors honored on Tuesday, scored 12 of her game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Airedalettes pulled away for a 52-38 win against Shiloh Christian in 5A-West play Tuesday.
Alma (14-10, 7-6) now travels to Greenbrier on Friday. A win can pretty much put the Airedalettes into the state tournament which will be played at Alma. The Airedalettes beat Greenbrier at home earlier this season.
"There’s a lot of our conference that’s still up in the air, but for us, we have to win Friday night to get in. … We’re trying not to think about that much and we talked about it going in, it normally takes eight wins to get to go to the state tournament; occasionally, seven wins will get you in, but eight’s almost always a definite," Alma coach Madelyn Flenor said. "We’ve got seven so if we get one Friday, we’re where we set out to be at the start of the season."
The Airedalettes were up by two points at halftime. In the third quarter, they got a boost from Cassie Cochran, who hit three 3-pointers. The last one boosted Alma’s lead to nine, 30-21.
Shiloh responded with an 8-0 run to get within a point, 30-29, late in the third. Alma hit two foul shots at the end of the quarter to make it a three-point game before Stewart really got going.
Stewart began the fourth by hitting a 3 from the corner. She then added two free throws to cap a 7-0 run which extended Alma’s lead to eight, 37-29.
The Lady Saints cut it to four, 37-33, before Alma senior Madison Newton completed a three-point play. On the ensuing possession, Stewart intercepted a pass and went down the court to finish with a layup. Alma went up by 12 with less than four minutes left, 45-33, as the Airedalettes finished a 15-4 run.
Stewart and teammate Hailey Ostrander converted layups off a pair of steals inside the final two minutes for the final 14-point margin.
"We just hit some shots," Flenor said. "I thought we played real good the first half, our intensity and effort was really good, Shiloh hurt us on the boards (Tuesday) and I think we kind of owned the boards at their place, but I thought we played well, we didn’t shoot very well early. We finally hit some shots and were able to get a couple of steals and a couple of turnovers that helped and finally got a lead where I felt comfortable where we pulled it out."
Stewart finished the game by scoring 14 of her 16 points after halftime. Cochran added 12 points.
Alma 61, Shiloh Christian 43 (Men’s)
For the seventh consecutive season, the Airedales punched their ticket into postseason play. Alma is assured of being in the top four among the 5A-West teams as the Airedales (16-8, 8-5) prepare to host the 5A State Tournament next week.
"Coming into (Tuesday), we’ve really had two weeks of playoff-type games," Alma coach Stan Flenor said. "We came out a little bit sluggish early (Tuesday) in the first half. We played really well on defense and just turned down some shots we normally make. The second half, we just relaxed and shot the ball well and played really good on defense."
Alma broke open a tight first half with a 26-point third quarter, fueled by the play of junior Austin Lee. Lee had 14 of his game-high 22 points in the quarter, including a pair of 3s. He also scored 18 points in the second half.
"He just took over, and they were just pressuring us and he just got into the paint, made open 3’s and just put us on his back offensively," Flenor said. "Then we all just kind of relaxed and we saw Austin scoring, so we hit an open 3 here, an open look here. … We relaxed, but Austin (came through) offensively and he played really well on the defensive end, too."
With the Airedales up 35-28 midway through the third, Lee scored a basket and then hit a 3 to push the lead into double digits, 40-28. Lee then made another shot right before the third quarter ended as the lead grew to 14, 44-30. Alma led by as many as 21 points in the fourth.
Jake Folkerts added 14 points in the win for Alma, and also went 8-of-10 from the foul line.