SERENA — It may have taken a little longer than what they had liked to keep its historic season going, but the Indian Creek Timberwolves will have a chance for its first sectional championship in school history.
Having fought through a sluggish first half during their 1A Serena Sectional semifinal tilt against Amboy, the Timberwolves found a rhythm and gradually increased their lead against the Clippers as the game went on en route to a 48-30 win on Monday night.
Indian Creek (29-1) advances to the Sweet 16 round of the 1A state series for the first time with the win, and Annawan (29-4) – a 60-57 overtime winner against Ashton-Franklin Center in the evening's earlier semifinal – stands in the Timberwolves' way.
The 2-3 zone of the Clippers (22-7) made shooting a struggle early on, but throughout the course of the game, they struggled to keep up with the speed of the Timberwolves. Leading the charge was the fleet-footed Alexis VanWyhe, who led her team with 18 points on 7 of 9 shooting.
"We made some baskets in transition and got the ball going a little bit," Indian Creek coach Paul Muchmore said. "We struggled early, and we couldn't get any rhythm.
"When you struggle outside against a 2-3 zone, you're going to be in for a long evening."
Despite forcing seven Clippers turnovers in the opening quarter, the Timberwolves led 18-13 at halftime, but outscored the Clippers 30-18 in the final 16 minutes. Amboy struggled from the field (10-for-38), and a good chunk of the misses were blocked by Timberwolf defenders. Indian Creek registered nine blocks, with MaKayli Vann's four leading the way.
Josie Diehl added a double-double with 13 rebounds and 10 points.
"We're a team that likes to run," Diehl said, "so we knew we needed to use it to our advantage, and beat them back when we got that defensive rebound. We did an alright job at it."
Annawan – who has won four straight sectional titles, en route to a 1A championship and a 1A third-place finish – dug an early hole in its game against AFC, but gradually rebounded to force overtime and earn a sectional final date with the Timberwolves.
"It's going to take a lot," Muchmore said. "It's going to take a smart game, and are going to have to get those nerves out. We got a shot."
"They're a good team," Diehl said of Annawan. "We just got to make sure to limit our mistakes, because they'll capitalize on them. We can do it, though."