Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Irish Claim Sectional

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Irish Claim Sectional

Article excerpt

Keener 3s, Imani free throw deliver title to Catholic

OAK HILL - When Jordan Keener, not known for her 3-point- shooting prowess, hit a running 3-pointer from well beyond the arc at the halftime buzzer, putting Charleston Catholic ahead 19-17 at the break, no one could have thought it wouldn't even be her biggest trey of the game. But luckily for the Class A No. 9 Irish, it wouldn't be, not by a long shot.

Keener buried back-to-back 3s in the fourth quarter, the second of which finally drew the Irish (16-9) even at 41-all with 1:17 remaining, after Catholic trailed nearly the entire second half.

That set up senior Vida Imani, who came up with a tie-breaking free throw and a game-clinching steal in the final 10.5 seconds to give the Irish a 42-41 win over Fayetteville and a Region 3 Section 1 championship to boot. Catholic hosts the loser of Summers County and Meadow Bridge on Thursday. The Bobcats and Wildcats will battle it out for the Section 2 title on Saturday at Princeton.

Keener finished with a team-high and career-best 19 points and Catholic needed every single last one of them.

"I think when we were down two at many different points, I knew we had to get a lead, Keener said. "Even though my 3 didn't give us the lead, it tied it up and kind of made the momentum go.

Imani, who leads the Irish in scoring, was the focal point of the Pirates' defense, drawing a full-court man-to-man and then a double team once on the offensive side of the floor.

That opened driving lanes for Keener and other Irish guards, but it was Keener who was able to finish consistently enough to help Catholic overcome a night in which it shot just 10 for 28 from the foul line.

"This isn't the first time, that happening to Vida, Keener said. "We've practiced it and I guess I've been shooting a little bit more. We all just had to get together and take Vida out of the occasion and just try and go at it four-on-four.

"She's had a really, really good season for us, Catholic coach Zack Bogan added of Keener. "She took over as our point guard and has made the role her own. We've been trying to get her to shoot a little more as the season has gone on.

Tonight, when it mattered, she stepped in with all the confidence in the world and knocked down some huge shots for us. …

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