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HAMMON UPSET DENIED

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Walker steps up as No. 1 Lomega overcomes tough shooting night to claim regional championship, 48-42

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    LOMEGA RAIDERS vs. HAMMON WARRIORS — FRESHMAN Sydni Walker of Lomega jumps over Hammon defenders for two points during Lomega’s regional championship. She scored 12, including seven during a pivotal third-quarter stretch. [Photo by Chris Simon/www.simons-sports-photos.smugmug.com]

There are Lomega teams from the past that coach Kevin Lewallen knows couldn’t have handled how last Saturday’s regional championship game played out.

But this team…this team could.

Top-ranked Lomega overcame its share of adversity to hold off an inspired Hammon squad 48-42 in Cashion to win their regional title game.

“It was a struggle,” Lewallen said after his team moved into this Friday’s area championship game. “We’ve had some teams that wouldn’t have been able to win this game tonight, but this group is able to overcome a lot.”

Lomega hadn’t been held below 61 points since December, but struggled to get anything going against the Lady Warriors.

It was most evident from the 3-point line, where Lomega missed all 14 attempts. In fact, Lomega never made a shot outside the lane. All of the Lady Raider points came on layups, free throws or within a few feet of the basket.

“If you told me we wouldn’t make a 3-pointer all night, I would have told you we didn’t have a great shot at winning,” Lewallen said.

Hammon held Lomega to just 10 points in the first quarter, then outscored the Lady Raiders 9-4 in the second to take a four-point halftime lead.

Even worse for Lomega, leading scorer Ady Wilson picked up her third foul late in the second quarter.

Despite the offensive woes, Lomega stayed in the game with its own defense. The Lady Raiders pressed at every opportunity and forced 28 Hammon turnovers. That pressure finally helped turn the tide in the second half of the third quarter.

Hammon took a 27-23 lead just before the midpoint of the quarter, but didn’t score again until the fourth.

Lomega closed the quarter with a 12-0 run and forced two Hammon timeouts in the process.

The Lady Raiders were getting points off turnovers, but also force feeding it to freshman post Sydni Walker, who scored seven points during that stretch.

“They were all huge buckets for us,” Lewallen said. “And that really turned it in our favor.”

Darcy Roberts added five points in the quarter and Wilson scored four.

Hammon wouldn’t go away and used a 6-0 run to pull within four early in the fourth.

It was a 44-38 game with 1:44 to play when Hensley Eaton’s steal helped seal the victory.

Walker and Wilson scored 12 points apiece to lead the team.

Seventeen of their combined 24 points came in the second half.

Roberts ended her night with 10 while Eaton scored eight and Duffy six.

Hammon was led by Jolie Walker’s 17 points.

Freshman Addison Walker, who scored 40 points in the team’s victory the previous Thursday, recorded just seven points.

Lomega avoided the upset bug Saturday that bit three top-eight teams.

No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Boise City and No. 5 LeFlore all lost their regional championship games.

Lomega (26-2) plays 12th-ranked Paden (21-7) at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Cleveland. The winner advances to state while the loser gets another crack in Saturday’s consolation championship.

Paden defeated Kinta 42-38 in their regional championship. That was after knocking off No. 8 McCurtain 48-46 on Thursday.