The Vienna Grade School Lady Rams Girls’ basketball team defeated Nashville 51-42 to win the 2017 SIJHSAA Class Girls’ Basketball State Championship on Friday, Jan. 27 at Rend Lake College.
The Lady Rams delivered a five-game post-season winning streak to win the program’s first SIJHSAA girls’ basketball championship since the 1986-87 season.
This is the district’s first SIJHSAA state championship since the 2009 SIJHSAA Class M state baseball championship.
As the No. 1 seed, the Lady Rams hosted the Region II regional.
The Lady Rams defeated Pope County, 54-11, in the semifinal game with eleven players marking the scoring column and a stout defensive effort.
Addison Bent led all scorers with 19 points, Maddie Thornton chipped in 7 points and Shania Vaughn and Jessa Shoemaker each scoring 6 points, respectively.
Using a 43-15 halftime lead, the Lady Rams earned the Region II regional championship trophy by defeating Hardin County 68-34.
Led by Addison Bent’s 47 points, the Lady Rams applied defensive pressure that forced numerous turnovers throughout the game.
Maddie Thornton scored 7 points and Shania Vaughn and Lindsey Miles each scored 6 points to ensure the regional championship.
The team traveled to Rend Lake College on Friday, Jan. 20 and faced a very scrappy and well coached Christopher team for their first game of the State Tournament.
Leading 15-4 after the first quarter, the Lady Rams weathered a run by Christopher in the second quarter to go into halftime with a 22-14 lead.
Taleah Warren was the difference in the first half for the Lady Rams, scoring 8 of her 11 total game points in the first half.
Relentless defensive pressure and outstanding defensive rebounding in the third quarter spurred a 15-2 advantage and the Lady Rams entered the 4th quarter with a 37-16 lead.
Another early fourth quarter run by the Christopher girls was not enough and the Lady Rams’ earned a trip to the Final Four game by defeating Christopher, 49-35.
A balanced scoring attack was led by Addison Bent scoring 25 points, Taleah Warren adding 11 points, Lindsey Miles scoring 8 points and Maddie Thornton scoring 5 points, respectively.
The Final Four game versus Aviston on Jan. 23 was a battle of talent, mental toughness and strategy throughout the entire game.
The 2015 SIJHSAA Class M state champs could match the teams overall quickness and guard dominated on both ends of the floor.
A slow start for both teams offensively was interrupted by the three-point shooting of Maddie Thornton who hit three 3-pointers in the first half.
All three were needed as Aviston defended Addison Bent, arguably the best player in the State Tournament, very well for the first three quarters.
Trailing 16-18 going into the second half, the Lady Rams were held scoreless in the third quarter.
To their credit, a strong defensive effort kept the game within reach going into the final quarter with Aviston enjoying a 22-16 lead.
Throughout the game, the Lady Rams shortened the game by deliberately taking time off the clock during their offensive possessions.
This was key against the quicker Aviston squad by significantly limiting their offensive possessions and allowing the Lady Rams to catch a little bit of a breather on the offensive end of the floor before expending a great deal of energy on the defensive end of the floor.
The tempo created by the strategy certainly worked for the Lady Rams and took Aviston out of their comfort zone.
In the end, the Lady Rams used a 16-3 fourth quarter run to earn a trip to the Class M Championship game, defeating the 2017 SIJHSAA Class M third place Aviston team, 32-25.
Addison Bent and Maddie Thornton led the Lady Rams with 10 points each while Taleah Warren scored 8 points to lead the offensive.
The game plan was a total team effort and well executed as the taking care of the ball, shot selection and defensive rebounding were significant contributions made by all.
Playing in the girls’ basketball programs first SIJHSAA state championship game since 1987, the Lady Rams were matched up against a very solid and tradition rich Nashville program.
Outscoring Nashville in each of the first three quarters, the Lady Rams owned a 40-31 lead going into the fourth quarter.
An up and down fast paced effort for most of the game, both teams made offensive runs while the Lady Rams made the most of their trips to the free throw line and enough defensive stops in the fourth quarter to cement the championship game victory, 51-42.
Addison Bent led all scorers with 32 points, while Lindsey Miles and Maddie Thornton scored 8 and 7 points, respectively.
Again, all players on the floor for the Lady Rams made key contributions throughout the game on both ends of the floor – necessary for defeating a very good Nashville squad in a championship game atmosphere.
Superintendent Greg Frehner said the following in a news release:
Above and beyond the victories and trophy case hardware, all of the Lady Rams basketball players should be commended for representing themselves, their team, their families, District No. 55, and their respective communities with the utmost class, sportsmanship and with a winner’s attitude.
The off-season open gyms and in-season commitment to excellence equals hundreds of hours of sacrifice, dedication and work above and beyond meeting the high academic and student conduct expectations of Vienna District No. 55.
The comprehensive support shown for the Lady Rams girls’ basketball program was continuously strong and we are all very grateful.
The Lady Rams basketball program would like to thank the parents, the VGS staff, the VGS student-body, the District No. 55 Board of Education, the VGS cheer squad, and all of the community supporters for their outstanding commitment to the 2016-17 Lady Rams basketball program.
Also, thank you to coach Mattox and coach Odom for their leadership and guidance that goes well above and beyond basketball practice and game preparation.
The members of the 2016-2017 Lady Rams girls’ basketball program include: 6th graders, Kassidy Taylor, Daylynn Harris and Brooklyn Ralls. 7th graders, Taleah Warren, Ryleigh Shipley, Payton Bennett, Maia Hayden, Maddie Thornton, Laurie Smith, Kaysea Blankenship, Jessa Shoemaker and Emma Nielson. 8th graders, Shania Vaughn, Lindsey Miles, Kenzie Myers, Jalyn Moore, Alivia Montgomery, and Addison Bent.