WARSAW – Bishop Luers made it a priority all week to prepare for Eastern senior Brittany Neeley.
On Saturday, it looked like the Knights scarcely remembered a thing.
Neeley went for 48 points and 20 rebounds to help lead the Comets to a 74-55 victory over the Knights in the Class 2A North Semi-state.
Eastern's all-time leading scorer nearly beat Bishop Luers all by herself.
“We told the kids when she gets the ball she is not going to stop,” said Bishop Luers coach Denny Renier about Neeley. “We just didn't do a good job and that's an understatement.”
At all of 5-foot-6, Neeley got to the basket at will against a Knights defense that had been solid throughout the postseason. For whatever reason, the Bishop Luers defense broke down against Eastern, being frequently out of position and surrendering 21 offensive rebounds that led to 13 second-chance points.
The Knights (14-12) fell down early and trailed by nine at halftime. They trimmed the lead to four on a pair of free throws by Taya Andrews midway through the third quarter, but Eastern went on an 8-2 run to pull back away.
“We got it to four and next thing I know (Neeley) goes down coast-to-coast and lays it in,” Renier said. “Those are killers and she did that how many times to us?
“We'd make a run and she would go down and do what she wanted to do and it is just disappointing from that standpoint.”
Three Eastern players finished with double-figure rebounds as the Comets dominated the boards for the game 53-32. Brittany Neeley's sister Bethany also finished with a double-double, notching 16 points and 12 rebounds.
“We are disappointed, the girls had a good run in the tournament,” Renier said. “It is kind of hard to go out this way because single-handedley (Brittany Neeley) almost beat us, or at least her and her sister did.”
Eastern (22-3) will play in its first-ever state championship next Saturday in Terre Haute.
Bishop Luers was led by Emma Wolfe and Addie Reimbold, who each scored 13 points. This will be the first time in four years the Knights will not be playing in the Class 2A state championship game, but with just two seniors on this year's roster, the future is bright.
“I am not going to get down on my kids,” Renier said. “They gave it their best shot, we just didn't play well enough.”
EASTERN 74, BISHOP LUERS 55
Eastern 16 13 19 26-74
Bishop Luers 11 9 18 17-55
Eastern: Olyer 4, Bethany Neeley 16, Holliday 6, Brittany Neeley 48.
Bishop Luers: Erin Butler 8, Andrews 6, Wolfe 13, Reimbold 13, Sutorius 11, Knape 1, Allison Butler 3.