SAC Girls Basketball

Mounties hold off late Tiger comeback


NEW MARKET — For the first time since 2017 Southmont girls basketball took down Lebanon on Friday night as both Sagamore Conference foes concluded the regular season. The win however for the Mounties was anything but easy as the Tigers mounted a ferocious fourth quarter comeback that fell just short. Leading 35-22 things seemed to be in hand for the Mounties entering the final quarter as they controlled the entire game. However after Cheyenne Shaw split her free-throw attempts to make it 36-22 at the beginning of the fourth, Lebanon would score 12 straight points to cut the lead 37-34 as the Mounties had a plethora of turnovers and missed shots in the final eight minutes. Shaw however with 4.2 seconds to go iced the game with a made free-throw and South escaped with a 38-34 victory.

“This is a huge win for us all the way around,” Southmont coach Dan Burkman said. “The last three years, losing this game then heading into the sectional has never been fun. It changes everything for us that we’re able to end the regular season with a win.”

Southmont with the win ends the regular season with a 13-8 (4-3 SAC) record. The 13 wins is the most in the four years Burkman has been with Mountie program. South also finishes in third place in the SAC behind both Tri-West and Danville.

The Mounties had to figure some things out to begin the game as the Tigers came out and used a box-and-one style defense on senior DeLorean Mason. That freed up South’s post players in Chloe Jenkins and Layla Gomez to take over and they did just that. Gomez led all scorers with 18 points and easily secured a double-double with 14 rebounds. Jenkins ended with six as did Shaw while both Mason and Olivia Gray scored four.

Both teams struggled mightily to hang onto possession with the Mounties coughing it up 28 times and the Tigers 27. When all was said and done however, all that mattered was South got the win.

“Layla told me during our shoot-around that she was feeling good,” Burkman said of his freshman standout. “Chloe played really well in that first half and our bigs were the ones to carry us because our guards struggled.”

For the game Southmont made 14-48 (29%) of their shots from the floor and went just 0-4 from three. They shot 10-15 (66.7%) from the free-throw line while grabbing 32 rebounds.

Lebanon (9-14, 4-3 SAC) was led in scoring by Riley Vanaman’s 17 points. Emily Sperry added six with Claire Boling scoring four, Ava Lehmkuhler three and both Ciarra Hiatt and Marina Barr having two. The Tigers from the field were 11-35 (31%) while shooting 3-10 (30%) from long range. At the foul line they shot 9-16 (56.3%) while grabbing 30 rebounds.

Southmont ends the regular season going 6-1 in their final seven games and now carries big momentum into their Class 2A Sectional 44 which gets underway Wednesday at South Putnam.

“We have some really great momentum and I’m loving what I’m seeing from these girls,” Burkman concluded. “We’re in a good spot mentally. We just need to rest up a little bit before next week when we’ll have all eyes towards South Putnam.”