SHABBONA – There was pressure on Indian Creek last week.
The girls basketball team hadn’t captured a regional crown since 1998. On top of it, last season, the Timberwolves suffered a heart-breaking overtime loss to Hinckley-Big Rock in a regional final.
Indian Creek coach Paul Muchmore said he felt his team was nervous heading into the Class 1A Earlville Regional final against LaMoille, although the nerves quickly went away in a 51-31 win.
When the Timberwolves take the floor against Putnam County tonight in the Class 1A Putnam County Sectional semifinals, there will be a big weight lifted off Indian Creek’s shoulders. The winner of the contest, which tips off at 8 p.m., will take on the victor of the other semifinal between Serena and Annawan, the top-ranked team in the latest Associated Press’ Class 1A poll.
“We knew we were one of the better teams going into the regional, so it would have been a heck of a big upset if we didn’t win,” Timberwolves senior forward Samantha Mosley said. “We knew we had to win.”
Muchmore said the pressure has subsided.
“I think they were really wanting to win that regional, especially after last year being up and losing in OT,” Muchmore said. “I think a little bit of the nerves were they didn’t want that to happen again.”
In Putnam County (21-5), Indian Creek (15-13) is seeing a familiar team. The Panthers defeated the Timberwolves, 64-45, in November, but led by only five points at the half.
“I think it helps us. I think there’s a known, not just going over a scouting report,” Muchmore said about playing Putnam County for a second time. “We’ve played in that gym, it won’t be a surprise as to what it’s like.”
Putnam County defeated Varna Midland, 68-21, and Roanoke-Benson, 51-36, to win the Roanoke-Benson Regional.
Muchmore said his team’s defense has been better as of late, and likes the way the group has been utilizing post players such as Mosley and sophomore Josie Diehl.
In last week’s regional win, Diehl said the team got a boost from the large contingent of Timberwolves fans who made their way to Earlville, something she wants to see happen again in the sectional semifinals.
“We’re just moving the ball and finding open shots. Just finding energy. We build energy off the crowd, so hopefully that can help us,” Diehl said. “We’re just doing whatever it’s easiest for us to do.”