KNOXVILLE — Both the Alleman and Orion girls' basketball teams flirted with scoring regional-semifinal upsets of higher-seeded clubs Wednesday evening.
However, neither second-seeded Farmington nor third-seeded Knoxville would be denied. In the first of two Class 2A Knoxville Regional semifinal tilts, the Farmers held off the ninth-seeded Chargers to prevail 48-43. The fifth-seeded Pioneers fell 49-37 to the Blue Bullets in the nightcap.
Alleman bows out at 10-19 and Orion is sidelined with a 12-19 record.
With junior Gabbi Loiz, the Pioneers' top scorer, held to just eight points, it was one of coach Megan McCracken's two seniors who stepped up to help keep the game close.
Guard Annalise Connolly drained five of her 10 3-point attempts and led all scorers with 17 points. She drained three treys in the opening period, the last of which came with five seconds on the clock to put the Pioneers up 9-8 after one.
"In the first quarter, Annalise was poised and confident. That's a credit to her work ethic," said McCracken, who also got eight rebounds and six points from Lydia Dorsey, with Maddie Porter adding five boards. "She broke our single-season record for 3s, and she held us together on offense tonight."
However, 25 turnovers hampered the Pioneers' offensive efforts. Fifteen of those miscues came in the first half, and Knoxville (23-7) cashed in, using a 10-2 second-period run as the springboard to a 22-16 halftime lead. Midway through the third, the Blue Bullets opened an eight-point advantage.
Alleman closed the gap to 32-27 by the end of the third on a Loiz bucket in the closing seconds. A Loiz three-point play had the Pioneers down 36-30. After falling behind by 12, they closed to within 42-35 with 2:48 remaining but could not complete the comeback.
"We had some turnovers hurt us. That's something we've been struggling with all year," said McCracken. "But, I can't commend our kids enough for their resiliency and fight."
In the other regional semifinal, the Chargers raced out of the gate, using a Karsyn McCunn 3-pointer and a Danielle Taets three-point play to grab a 6-0 lead. But by the end of the first quarter, Farmington had bounced back to go up 16-12.
Down 24-17 late in the second period, Orion got a boost with Olivia Farwell's three-point play with 36.9 seconds on the clock, closing the gap to four at halftime. That set the stage for Orion's strong second-half upset bid.
Led by junior standout Taets' game-high 17 points, the Chargers quickly erased a seven-point deficit early in the third quarter to take a pair of leads, first going up 34-31 on a Chloe Fausett 3-ball and then 36-35 on Taets' bucket with 29 seconds left. Farmington led 37-36 entering the fourth, but the Chargers' charge was not finished.
A 3-pointer by Cassidy Schultz (10 rebounds, six points) gave Orion a 39-37 lead early in the final period, but the Farmers responded with eight straight points to take the lead for good. The Chargers got to within 46-43 on a Taets bucket with 21.4 seconds left, but could not regain the edge.