Flinthills girls move one win away from state tournament

Lionel Tipton

ROSALIA – If anyone wondered why coaches stress practicing free throws, Flinthills’ girls provided a great example Thursday night.

The Mustangs went to the line 20 times in the fourth quarter, hitting 11, which was enough to give them a 43-33 victory over Central Burden in a Class 1A Division I semifinal. 

In Saturday’s final, Flinthills will play host to Udall, which defeated Oxford in the other semifinal.

The Mustangs and Eagles have played twice already this season, with Flinthills taking both games, 40-30 at Udall and 41-24 at home.

In the only other meeting this season, Flinthills edged Central on the road, 34-32.

Central (6-16) put a mild scare into the Mustangs, but by the end of the first quarter Flinthills led 9-8 and would lead the rest of the way.

Flinthills’ lead ballooned to as many as 10 in the third quarter, but a 6-0 Raiders run cut it to 23-19 at the end of the period.

Central was held to just two points in the second quarter, scoring its only bucket with 31 seconds before halftime. The Raiders also turned the ball over eight times in the quarter.

But in the third quarter, Flinthills had trouble with the ball, committing seven of its 13 second-half turnovers.

Order was restored in the final period, when Flinthills outscored Central 20-14, helped mainly by free throws. The Raiders got as close as one point inside of four minutes left, but Flinthills put together a 14-5 run down the stretch to seal the victory.

Junior Riggin Carney paced the Mustangs’ attack with a game-high 15 points, hitting two three-pointers and going 5-of-8 from the free-throw line.

“She handles the ball for us,” Mustangs coach Monty Melugin said. “She’s the gears that make everything go.”

 Sophomores Taren Lakin and Madison Alvord contributed eight points each. Senior Harley Branscum paced Central with 12 points.

Melugin said Flinthills’ foul trouble forced some adjustments.

“But we got ’er done,” he said.

“We made our free throws down the stretch. We haven’t been able to do that all season, and we finally did that when it mattered. I’m proud of them.”

In addition to Carney, Lakin and senior Reagan Heimgartner hit three free throws each, and Central committed 11 turnovers in the final period, enabling the Mustangs to extend their lead.

Saturday's sub-state final is at 2 p.m. at Flinthills High School.

Flinthills girls 43, Central Burden 33

Central Burden 8;2;9;14 – 33

Flinthills 9;8;6;20 – 43

CENTRAL BURDEN – Branscum 2 8-11 12, Long 2(1) 0-0 7, Wunderlich 1(1) 0-0 5, Brogan 1(1) 0-0 5, M. Cook 0 3-6 3, Toon 0 1-2 1. Totals 6(3) 12-19 33.

FLINTHILLS – Carney 2(2) 5-8 15, T. Lakin 2 4-7 8, Alvord 4 0-0 8, Heimgartner 1 3-6 5, Girty 2 0-2 4, Holcomb 1 1-4 3. Totals 12(2) 13-27 43.