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One more to go

Last season, the Pike Liberal Arts School girls’ varsity team’s dream of winning a state championship fell through in the AISA Final Four.

This season however, the Final Four will not be the Patriots’ last stop.

Despite shooting just 35 percent from the floor, PLAS is headed to the AISA State Championship game, thanks to its 44-35 victory over Fort Dale Friday afternoon in Roland Arena at Huntingdon College.

This was the fourth meeting between the two teams this season – with the Patriots getting the best of the Eagles three-straight times.

[This game] was a lot like the last couple times we have played them,” head coach Steven Kilcrease said.

“I think we played well defensively, especially in the first quarter, but couldn’t capitalize off of their mistakes – we allowed them to stay in the game.

“Gotta give [Fort Dale] a lot of credit, they played hard the entire game,” the coach added.

Pressure defense would be a big part of the game.

The only time the Patriots trailed in the game was the opening moments, as Fort Dale took a two-point lead.

The rest of the quarter belong to PLAS as it finished on a 12-0 run, lead 12-2.

In the first quarter alone, the Eagles turned the ball over 15 times, which the Patriots converted into seven points.

Both teams combined to shoot 5-23 from the floor – just 22 percent from the floor.

In the second, the Patriots continued to maintain its lead, keeping a 10-point lead at the half, thanks to senior Katie Wiggins, who scored seven point in the quarter.

In the third quarter, the two defenses continued to make their presences felt as both team would only score seven points each.

Still, the Patriots held their lead, until late in the fourth quarter when Fort Dale made one last push for a shot at the championship.

With under five minutes left in the game, the Eagles were able to cut the lead down to a mere three-points at 38-35.

But that would be the last time Fort Dale would score a basket as the Patriots were able to build its lead back and cruise to the nine-point win.

“Getting here is great, but we still haven’t done anything yet.

“I am proud of the season the girls have had regardless, but our goal from the beginning of the season was a to win a state championship,” Kilcrease said.

While PLAS held Fort Dale to just 30 percent from the floor and forced 27 turnovers, the Patriots themselves struggled as well – shooting just 35 percent from the floor, did not hit a 3-pointer, 0-9, and shot just 27 percent from the free-throw line, connecting on 12 of its 27 chances.

“We gotta improve,” Kilcrease said. “We still have more practice to do before the game.”

Now, the Patriots will look to complete its season with a state title – against an opponent it has had success against this season, Glenwood.

In the two meetings prior, PLAS defeated the Gators 57-50 and 48-28, but that is something Kilcrease is not concerned with.

“We will be going into [the championship game] with a clean slate.

“It’s one game, against a team that is as athletic as we have seen all season long – we are going to have to play better than we did today if we want to win it,” he said.

The Patriots were led by seniors Eady Pinckard, Katie Wiggins, and Rebecca Farrar as each scored 12, 10 and nine points. Pinckard and Farrar also added nine and eight boards, apiece.