Bre Lloyd and the HSE Royals marched to a 53-46 victory over Westfield on Wednesday night. Photo by Scott Mumphrey.
Bre Lloyd and the HSE Royals marched to a 53-46 victory over Westfield on Wednesday night. Photo by Scott Mumphrey.
FISHERS - There were no surprises between Hamilton Southeastern and Westfield on Wednesday night.

Just execution.

And the Class 4A Royals did exactly that with the game in the balance late in the first-round of the Sectional 8 Tournament on their home floor.

Despite building a double-digit lead early, the Royals had to fend off the Shamrocks with their margin cut to one in the fourth quarter and prevailed to seize a 53-46 victory.

"Everything with what those kids did tonight just shows how hard they play and their effort," HSE head coach Chris Huppenthal said. "I tell them all the time, I couldn't be prouder of a group of kids, where they've come from and what they've done. I think they played together."

Riddled by injuries this season and faced with constant adversity, Hamilton Southeastern led from the opening tip. On Friday night, they will compete in the sectional semifinals against Mudsock rival 4A No. 9 Fishers (19-5) at 7:30 p.m.

But the first step was far from a guarantee as Westfield bounced back from a poor shooting first half to nearly overtake the Royals in the final frame.

HSE led the Shamrocks 17-9 at halftime. Westfield fell behind 7-2 in the first quarter behind a 1-for-10 shooting performance from the field and faced an eight-point deficit as HSE's Megan Walton banked a 3-pointer to finish the first half.

"Our game are always a grind. It's always a possession game. I certainly didn't expect us to have nine points at halftime, but they were a little bit more physical than us in the first half," Westfield head coach Shane Sumpter said. "But there's no surprises. They did what Southeastern has always done. We do what we always do. They just played a little bit better than us tonight."

In the third quarter, the Shamrocks played to their potential, quietly chipping away at the Royals' lead from the free-throw line with a 7-3 run to make it 31-27.

Westfield went 8-for-8 from the line and was 5 of 9 from the field in the quarter.

"We knew they were going to make a run," Huppenthal said. "Shane and those girls, I almost think sometimes when I'm watching them on film, it's like they cloned one of our teams and sent them to the other school. Both teams just play so hard, and they play so well together."

The Royals shot 4 of 8 from the floor during the stretch, but six team fouls slowed their momentum and provided the Shamrocks ample opportunities to climb back.

An Abby Reeder 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter brought Westfield within one point at 34-33, but from there the Royals regrouped and surged ahead for good.

Getting consecutive putbacks by Kyndall Williams, who was limited with foul trouble in the third quarter, the Royals went on an 8-0 run to go up 41-32.

Bre Lloyd, who finished with 16 points capped the rally with a runner and 3:55 left on the clock before the Royals converted 12 of 13 free throws to keep the Shamrocks at bay.

Lloyd was a perfect 5-for-5 from the line and Megan Walton went 6-for-6. Walton shot 5 of 6 from the field to score a team-high 18 points.

"Anytime you get in tournament basketball, free throws become monumental," Huppenthal said. "Megan Walton and Bre Lloyd went to the line like they had a mission and just knocked them down."

The Shamrocks (16-7) had defeated HSE during the regular season 38-37 on Jan. 16, but despite a team-high 11 points from Allison VanDyke a 10-point night from Maddy Grennes, they couldn't get over their low-scoring first half.

"We battled and hung in there and cut it to one," Sumpter said. "I don't want to say the 8-0 run was the difference in the game because the first half was probably the difference ... but we never got back."