With the game on the line, the big players will raise their game to another level and lead their team to victory.

Lina Rea of ​​Utica is a big player, and she stepped up when she needed the Chieftains the most on Friday night.

Rea, who Ford has often held on to the double team, scored 10 of 23 points in his game in the final quarter, including the final eight in the last 2:41, leading Utik to victory in the district championship in Division 1 with a score of 43-40 over Falcons in L’Anse Creuse.

“If your team has number 34 (Rea), it has made some great games,” Utica coach Tom MacDonald said. “She’s attracting a lot of attention, so we’ve got some candid footage from her penetration. At the time of the crunch, she knew she needed to make shots. If you have this baby, you ride it, and we’ve been riding it for the last couple of years. ”

The win, the first for Utick over Ford in three races this season, became the district’s second consecutive champion and third title in four years.

“Not winning the MAC White that’s loaded, coming here and defeating the one who beat you twice is great,” MacDonald said. “They didn’t abandon each other and kept working. They support each other, and this is the most important thing for them. “

The game was a defensive battle of both teams as Utica led 11-9 after one quarter before Ford went on a 15-8 series in the second quarter, gaining the biggest advantage in the game 24-19 with a three-pointer. played by Anaya Davis from 2:08 to the end of this period.

However, Utica finished the first half with a score of 6: 0, including four free throws by Kathleen Stogrin, gaining an advantage with a score of 25:24.

“Our big focus was on going to the offensive glass, and I thought we did,” said Ford coach Matt Joseph. “We just couldn’t finish. It’s sad, but sometimes the ball just doesn’t hit. “

When after three quarters “Utica” led with a score of 31-30, Ford managed to get ahead with a score of 36-35 after a triple by Carlin Stepp with a score of 2:56.

Chieftains responded with six points in a row from Rea, gaining a 41-36 lead 58 seconds before the end.

The Falcons narrowed the gap to 41-38 after Davis ’departure and had a few other chances to get closer but were unable to get hit.

Rea scored two penalties 15 seconds before the end, bringing Utika 43-38 before Davis made the bench eight seconds before the end, reducing the deficit to 43-40.

Everything became interesting when Utica could not get a pass at the entrance, and she was called for a violation for five seconds, which gave Ford one last chance to equalize. The last triple attempt sounded from the rim.

“These were two teams that know each other well and two teams that put in a huge effort in 32 minutes tonight,” Joseph said.

“We were at a loss, but I couldn’t ask anything from my children. They gave away everything they had.

“Lina is a great player and she has made some significant punches,” Joseph added. “We had some opportunities, but sometimes the ball just doesn’t hit.”

MacDonald admitted that his team played the best defensive game of the year.

“Without a doubt, it was our best defensive attempt of the year,” McDonald said. “We’ve played Ford twice and watched them last night and on film, and every kid in them on the floor can hurt you. Usually you play in a team where you can play this kid, but they don’t have anyone like that. It took so much effort and communication tonight. ”

Great statistics in the game followed the line of free throws, where Utica performed well 14 attempts out of 20, and Ford was 11 out of 22.

“When you play a big basketball game, the team that gets the lightest baskets usually wins,” MacDonald said. “I think free throws are light baskets. So if you make free throws and you’re solid in other phases, you’ll give yourself a pretty good chance of winning. I thought we did it tonight. “

In addition to Reo’s big game, the Chieftains also received nine points from Stogrin and five points from Sarah Fromm. The win improved Utica’s record to 16-5 overall and moved the Cheetahs to the regional semi-finals next Tuesday against L’Anse-Creuse North in Troy, Athens.

This will be the third meeting of the two teams. Like Ford, the Crusaders defeated Utica in both MAC White games this season.

“L’Anse Creuse North has beaten us twice,” MacDonald said. “Like Ford, both were pretty good basketball games. We feel that if we do what we have to do, we will be in basketball. “

Ford was ahead of freshman Davis by 15 points.

“She really stepped up tonight and played with everything she had,” Joseph said. “She was able to get to the rim. She will definitely be a special player. The most important thing in her is that she is a leader, she plays with great energy, and she is not afraid of the moment. “

Kylie Gilich added nine points for the Falcons, and Stepp finished with six points. The loss ended Ford’s season with a total score of 16-6.

“It’s been a great year,” Joseph said. “We had great team chemistry, company, and I loved engaging with this group every day. We had fun, and they worked hard. “

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