CONNERSVILLE — Anderson High School junior Dabriona Williams gave her teammates a Valentines gift and herself a birthday present in the girls sectional semifinal here Friday night.
The Lady Tribe led most of the way and held off a determined challenge by Pendleton Heights to defeat the Arabians 68-55 to advance to tonight's championship game against Mount Vernon.
Williams could not have picked a more opportune time to give her team a boost. The Indians were not beaten but certainly battered coming down the stretch of Friday's game. They were already missing one starter in Chelsea Bentley, who suffered an ankle injury in Wednesday's win over Richmond and may not be ready to play tonight.
Williams took five 3-pointers in the first half and had 15 points at intermission as Anderson posted a 34-23 lead. She finished with a career-high 26.
Then, with under a minute to play in the third quarter, another starter, Ania Daniels, was hurt and the game stopped for over 20 minutes while trainers and eventually paramedics treated Daniels.
"She caught an elbow to the head going in for a layup," said Anderson coach Chad Cook. "It raised a golf ball-sized knot on her forehead. She couldn't see for a minute. I think she was scared too."
Before Daniels was taken away to a hospital just a couple of blocks away, she made one last contribution. She had scored 12 to that point in the game, eight of them coming in that third quarter.
"She wanted to talk to the team before she left," said Cook. "The team rallied around her." But not immediately.
Anderson's lead was nine at the time of Daniels' injury. But it was only 47-42 after the third quarter finally ended. The Arabians had put together a big push in that quarter, sparked by Kiawna Cottrell and powered by seven points from Taylor Siefken and five from Morgan Landes.
That lead would shrink a bit further down to four before the Tribe regained their composure and steadily pulled away. Five different Indians hit field goals as Anderson buried 7-of-11 shots in the quarter. Williams had six of the Tribe's 21 points in the finale but so did Da'Sha Boyd, who had been limited to a single field goal before that.
"We had to play girls in spots that they aren't in typically," said Cook. "We had too many turnovers (18). We rushed ourselves at times when we didn't need to."
Both teams featured balanced scoring. PH had only five players who scored but all of them had nine or more and each of them scored four field goals. Freshman Sam Hammel was the top point producer with 14, followed by Cottrell with 12. Siefken and Landes finished with 10 each and Kelsey Burton ended with nine.
The Arabians only graduate Cottrell and Siefken from a team that finished their season at 14-9.
The Indians now get ready for the Marauders, a team they defeated 72-60 on Dec. 10.
"We want to get healthy," said Cook. "We don't know whether (Bentley and Daniels) will be back to play. But we are going to have to play better basketball than we did tonight and I think we will."Game time is 7:30 p.m.