PECATONICA – It’s always tough to beat a great team three times in a season. The Amboy Lady Clippers defeated last year’s state runners-up in Class 1A, Lanark (Eastland), twice in the regular season.
But the one Amboy wanted the most was dashed in the waning seconds as fourth-ranked Eastland got a three-pointer in the final seconds to stun the second-ranked Lady Clippers, 59-58, in the championship game of the Pecatonica Class 1A Sectional before a packed house on Feb. 20. Eastland advanced to the supersectional with a 31-3 record.
The game went back and forth throughout and Amboy held a two-point lead with nine seconds to go in the contest, but Eastland all-state senior Lydia Coatney launched a 22-footer with five seconds to go that found the bottom of the net to end Amboy’s incredible season. The Lady Clippers finished the campaign with a 31-2 record.
Mallory Powers led the Lady Clippers in scoring with 18 points, while she also had seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Abi Payne provided 15 points, seven assists and three steals. Both of Amboy’s guards were hounded by Eastland and had to deal with a lot of contact throughout the game. Olivia Dinges dropped in 11 points on four of six shooting and she hauled down eight boards.
Also for Amboy, Gabby Jones netted four points and grabbed four rebounds, while seniors Kyleigh Donna and Ashley Althaus chipped in with six and four points, respectively.
A big thank you goes out to seniors Donna and Althaus as they finished their high school careers.
Amboy opened the sectional that featured four teams with 25 to 30 wins apiece with a 47-33 triumph over Galena on Feb. 18.
It was a close game through three quarters before the Lady Clippers expanded their six-point margin and came away with the double-digit victory.
Jones led the attack with 14 points, while she also yanked down seven rebounds. Powers was next in scoring with 11 points and she added four assists and four steals. Donna pumped in eight points and pulled off eight caroms, while Dinges had seven points, four rebounds and three assists, and Payne added seven tallies.
Most people have heard of the book “Profiles in Courage” by John F. Kennedy. Amboy had its own version of that in this sectional. In the Galena game, Althaus was in a bad collision that resulted in her face being smashed into the floor. The result was a cut chin and a chipped tooth. That didn’t stop her from getting back into the game.
But that’s not the end of the story. Althaus went to get her chin glued and found out that she had a broken jaw. The small good news was that she wouldn’t need surgery. So, Althaus decided that she would play in the championship game against Eastland.
The desire to play her regular hustling game was a tribute to her. Even though the Lady Clippers did not win the game, Althaus got through the game without hurting her jaw more.
The coaches would like to thank all the students for their great support.
Also, thanks to all the parents, relatives and all the other Amboy fans that helped make this season so special. A special thanks to Kirsten Donna for all she has done for girls’ basketball the past four years.