Alleman proves too tough for Stillman Valley in championship of the 2A Oregon Sectional

Rock Island Alleman defenders converge on Stillman Valley's Taylor Davidson (15) during the championship of the 2A Oregon Sectional on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 at the Blackhawk Center at Oregon High School. The Cardinals lost the game 45-36.

OREGON – Stillman Valley’s girls basketball season came to an end in a 45-36 loss to Rock Island in the finals of the 2A sectional on Feb. 22.

Playing before a large crowd at the Blackhawk Center in Oregon, the Cardinals fell to Alleman by a nearly identical score for the second time this season.

A 48-37 loss in the finals of the Dixon Holiday Tournament was sandwiched between 14 straight wins by SV, who finished with a 30-5 record. In both games, the Pioneers got early leads and SV was never able to make a dent in them.

“Any time they scored and looked like they could go on a run, we responded,” Alleman coach Steve Ford said.

With Payge Barger hitting a 3 to start the game for SV and Taylor Davidson and Mya Janssen also scoring in the first quarter, the Cardinals only trailed 10-9. After that, it was a struggle to score, with the Cardinals being held to only two baskets in the second and third quarters combined.

“They did a good job of pressuring us,” SV coach Bobby Melton said. “We weren’t able to get the ball where it needed to be.”

Alleman upped its lead to 18-9 before Joslyn Nanni made a much-needed 3-pointer to stem the tide. Other than three Davidson free throws, those were the only points SV could muster.

On the positive, the Cardinal defense held Alleman in check the final part of the second quarter until senior team leader Audrey Erickson made a 3-point buzzer-beater from the top of the key for a 22-15 Pioneer lead. She also did the same in the first quarter on a 2-pointer in the lane.

“Those two shots hurt,” Mellon said. “At the same time, we miss an open shot. That’s a seven-point swing.”

At the start of the third quarter, it was Erickson drawing a charge on Davidson, much to the delight of the Alleman fans that made the long trip to Oregon. Moments later, Adalyn Voss scored on a 3-pointer and it was a 10-point advantage.

“They draw offensive fouls, but I don’t think all were legitimate,” Mellon said.

Both Voss and Erickson were tasked with shadowing Davidson, much the same way they did in the first game. They also led Alleman in scoring with 10 and 11 points.

With the two teams trading points the rest of the quarter, Alleman took a 33-24 lead into the fourth quarter.

Janssen gave SV some hope with a basket to make it 33-26, while Alleman was in the midst of a seven-possession scoring drought.

Like every other time that the Cardinals tried to go on a run, the Pioneer defense put on the brakes. This time it was in the form of blacked Nanni shot that Voss quickly turned into a score on the other end.

That score seemed to catapult Alleman the rest of the way, as they scored on five of the next eight possessions.

However, the real star down the stretch was Davidson, with consecutive steals and lay-ups to cut the lead to seven points with one minute left in the game. That was as close as the Cardinals would come, as Alleman finished off with 10-for-10 free throw shooting to make it the final margin of victory, 45-36.

Davidson led all scorers with 19 points, everyone hard-earned with all the attention should was getting from coach Ford’s game plan.

“The key was knowing where No. 15 (Davidson) was,” Ford said. “We had great communication on that. Erickson was a our leader on that.”

Another thing that hurt SV was giving up three second-chance field goals in the first half. Combine that with Erickson’s buzzer beaters, and that’s 11 points that could have been zero points. It most definitely could have been a different game and maybe one that wouldn’t have had Alleman in control throughout. Nine Cardinal turnovers to only three for Alleman in the first half also hurt.

“We gave up too many offensive rebounds in the first half,” Mellon said. “Sorry to see the season end. This was a special group we had.”

Though SV got beat to the offensive board, both teams had 22 total rebounds each. In another similar stat, not counting one early miss and a couple to end the game, they both combined for 19-of-19 free throw shooting.

Stillman Valley's Josyn Nannie looks to shoot as she is guarded by a Rock Island Alleman defender during the championship of the 2A Oregon Sectional on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 at the Blackhawk Center at Oregon High School. The Cardinals lost the game 45-46.
Stillman Valley's Taylor Davidson (15) reacts after the Cardinals fell to Rock Island Alleman 45-36 in the championship of the 2A Oregon Sectional on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 at the Blackhawk Center at Oregon High School.