For the second year in a row the Lady Tigers find themselves in the Class 1 State Championship game. Last year Walnut Grove fell to Eminence 36-35 on a late Lady Redwing free throw. Rory Henry’s squad is gunning for their first state championship since 2007.
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Why Disney should make a movie – Walnut Grove has the classic revenge angle. The Lady Tigers seemingly had last year’s state championship in the bag when then senior Kaylea Adams knocked down a pair of free throws with just 45 seconds remaining in the game. However, Katrina Nichols of Eminence would be fouled with just three seconds left. Her two free throws would give Eminence the lead and the state championship. Walnut Grove has been on a mission all season long, dropping just a pair of contests against reigning Class 3 state champ Mount Vernon, and Class 2 state finalist Crane. Also, the youthful Lady Tigers return their entire team, including guard Megan Shuler who has missed much of the season with a torn ACL.
Who gets the lead role – Jennifer Lawrence as Heather Harman: The actress who came to fame for her role as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games” would be the perfect candidate to play Harman. As she showed in her blockbuster-staring debut, Lawrence is not afraid to take over when the situation presents itself, much like Harman. The junior guard is a triple-double waiting to happen, but her ability to create offense for herself or others is what makes her such a special player.
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Who plays the villain – Miranda Brandt: The 5-foot-11 forward was a monster in the semifinals, lighting up Mercer for 23 points and 14 rebounds. However, last night was nothing new for the standout senior. The SIU-Edwardsville signee averages 19-11 a night for the Lady Pirates. Her size and skill make her a match up nightmare for the undersized Lady Tigers.
How the movie ends – Walnut Grove and Chamois is a great match-up on paper. It will be the speed and quickness of the Lady Tigers against the size and strength of the Lady Pirates. It is important for the Lady Pirates to get off to a good start and control the tempo. They cannot afford to get into a half court battle with Chamois. Also, Walnut Grove’s defensive stopper, Lexi Harman, will have one of her toughest match ups of the season with Brandt. The junior guard gives up three inches and a few pounds to Brandt, who likes to operate in the post. Heather Harman will need to be better this time around for the Lady Tigers. In last year’s title game Harman scored just nine points on 4-11 shooting and accounted for six of Walnut Grove’s 17 turnovers.