GREENCASTLE — The Southmont girls basketball put on a display that their fans, their players, and coach Dan Burkman will remember for quite awhile on Friday. Southmont took on Parke Heritage in the Class 2A Sectional 44 at South Putnam as the Mounties looked to punch their ticket to a sectional title game. After losing by 29 points during the regular season to this same Wolves team, Southmont saved it’s best game for last and unfortunately for the Mounties it still wasn’t enough as they fell to Parke Heritage 65-61 in a thriller of a girls basketball game on Friday.
In what many would agree that the game was for the sectional championship as the Mounties and the Wolves held the two best records in the tournament. The game saw the Wolves jump out to an 11-3 lead but the Mounties excelled at the free-throw line and clamped down on defense to end the first quarter on an 11-0 run to lead 14-11. A back and forth second quarter saw South still lead 30-28 at halftime. In the third quarter, Parke Heritage scored the first 11 and jumped out to a 39-32 lead, but the Mounties never wavered. South then went on a massive 17-5 run to end the quarter and lead 49-47 entering the fourth.
Battling foul trouble all game long Southmont’s leader DeLorean Mason picked up her fifth and final foul with around three minutes to go and with the game tied at 57-57, South would battle until the very end but see their season come to and end.
“There’s no question that was our best game we’ve played all season,” Southmont coach Dan Burkman said. “It was amazing to witness and it was a great environment to be a part of. The girls played phenomenal and so hard. We executed what we wanted to do for the most part, but still fell a little short.”
Parke Heritage coach Mark Harper also gave Burkman and the Mounties all the credit in the world for making his team work arguably the hardest they had to all season to gut out a post-season win and keep their season alive.
“I have to give props to Coach Burkman because that’s definitely not the same team we saw earlier this season,” Harper said of the Mounties. “We knew they were going to come in and challenge us and they gave us everything they had. He does a great job of getting his girls ready to play.”
For the game the Mounties were led in scoring by Mason with 19 points. Freshman Layla Gomez had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Cheyenne Shaw scored a season-high 12 points for the Mounties. Emily Link scored six, Chloe Jenkins five, Claire Kessler three, and Olivia Gray two. Southmont shot 22-45 (48.9%) from the field in the final game of the season and 3-9 (33.3%) from three. The Mounties shot 16-20 (80%) from the foul line and grabbed 31 rebounds while turning the ball over 23 times.
Parke Heritage (23-3), who also went on to defeat Greencaslte 43-32 in Saturday’s sectional championship game, were led Friday by Adilee Jenkins 20 points. Emma Simpson scored 16 and the do-it-all junior grabbed 16 rebounds in the win. Addison Jenkins scored 10, Andi Perkins eight, Cate O’Brien seven, and both Reaghan Benjamin and Addie Ramsey scored two.
Southmont (14-9) ends it season with the most wins in a decade as the Mounties have won 13 games multiple times but the last time they won 14 was back in 2013-14. The season also includes a county title along with a Sugar Creek Classic championship.
“This was a great season without question,” Burkman said. “We had great leadership with our seniors and they brought our freshman along so well. Everyone contributed so well and we saved our best basketball for the end. That’s all I can really ask out of these girls. This year was a great atmosphere and culture that the girls have built, now we have to continue to carry it forward.”
Southmont fans stuck around after the game and as each player walked out of the lockeroom with tears in their eyes, the Mountie fans gave them a rousing applause. South says goodbye to four outstanding seniors in Jenkins, Shaw, Gray and Mason. It’s the first group of seniors that Burkman has been able to coach all four years and without getting too emotional, Burkman spoke on this senior group.
“It’s really hard to put into words what this senior class has meant to me and to our program,” he said. “They’re simply special to what we’re trying to build here. I’m going to miss coaching each and every one of them.”
The future for the Mounties looks extremely bright. Players like Link, Gomez, Kessler, and Molly Williams will all be sophomores next season with another talented freshman class coming up next year, the Mounties aren’t going anywhere.