Four quarters of solid basketball was what it was going to take for Palestine-Hutsonville's girls' basketball team to knock off top-seeded Dieterich Wednesday night in the semifinals of the IHSA Class 1A Girls Basketball Regional at Neoga.
One team did play strong basketball for four quarters, but unfortunately it was not the Lady Pioneers. Dieterich outscored Palestine-Hutsonville in each of the first three quarters and slowly pulled away for a 59-37 win.
A bad first quarter for the Lady Pioneers and they never fully recovered.
After falling behind 4-0 to start the game, Emily Nehls put Palestine-Hutsonville on the board with a basket, then Nicole Kiger followed wit a three-pointer to give the Lady Pioneers their first and only lead at 5-4.
Dieterich responded with a 12-0 run to take the lead for good and Palestine-Hutsonville would not get any closer than nine points the rest of the way. Kiger ended the Dieterich run with a pair of free throws late in the period to make the score 16-7, but Dieterich's Sydney Higgs scored to give the Lady Movin' Maroons an 18-7 advantage at the end of the first period.
Dieterich pushed the lead to 20-7 to start the second quarter, then Kiger drained a three-pointer to pull the Lady Pioneers to within 20-10. Palestine-Hutsonville could not get the lead below double figures though, as Dieterich countered with a 7-3 spurt to take a 27-13 lead. A free throw by Kiley Rariden and a basket by Calee Fulling closed the gap to 27-16, but Dieterich ended the period with an 8-4 burst to stretch their lead to 35-20 at halftime.
Baskets by Kiger and Fulling at the start of the third quarter made the score 35-24 and the Lady Pioneers were still within striking distance down just 13, 43-30, about midway through the period, but Dieterich ended the quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 51-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
Dieterich outscored Palestine-Hutsonville 8-7 over the final eight minutes to secure the win and held their biggest lead of 24 at 57-33 early in the final period.
Another rough night shooting doomed the Lady Pioneers, as they made just 13-43 field goal attempts (30 percent), including just 8-36 from two-point range (22 percent), but went 5-7 from three-point range (71 percent), all coming from Kiger.
Dieterich made half of their shots (25-50), which included 23-48 from inside the arc (47 percent) and knocking down both of their three-point attempts. Dieterich also was perfect in seven attempts at the free throw line, while Palestine-Hutsonville made just 6-12 foul shots.
Kiger finished her high school career with a bang, pouring in 22 points, while also recording six rebounds, one steal and one assist. Fulling posted six points, seven rebounds and one steal, Leslie Churchwell netted three points and three rebounds, Rariden collected three points, two rebounds and one blocked shot, Nehls totaled two points, six steals, three rebounds and one assist and McKenna Elder added one point, one rebound and one assist.
Candace Niemerg led three players in double figures for Dieterich with 18 points, six rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot, while Kaitlyn Meinhart and Sydney Higgs scored 10 points apiece.
In the other semifinal Wednesday, second-seeded Effingham St. Anthony thumped host and third-seeded Neoga, 34-17.
Dieterich and Effingham St. Anthony will meet in the championship game tonight at 7:30 in Neoga, with the winner advancing to the Altamont Sectional next week.
Palestine-Hutsonville ended its season with a 14-14 record.