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Girls basketball: Jefferson survives Allen East's comeback try

Feb. 29—ELIDA — Lyv Lindeman might be hobbled, but she's still Lyv Lindeman.

The Northwest Conference player of the year, playing with pain in her leg that had her noticeably limping between plays, stole Allen East's inbounds pass and hit a free throw to end the Mustangs' comeback dreams in a thrilling 49-45 game Thursday night in the district semifinals at the Elida Fieldhouse.

"Anything for this team," said Lyv Lindeman, who said she jammed her leg after blocking a shot in the sectional championship game last week. "I'll put my whole body out there for them."

She scored eight of her 16 points in the fourth quarter, including four free throws, as the Wildcats (21-3) advanced to the district championship game. They'll face Ottawa-Glandorf at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Elida Fieldhouse. Lauren French, who missed the 57-41 win in the regular season against Allen East with a sprained ankle, had a team-high 20 points and 19 rebounds.

"The heart of this team is unbelievable," Jefferson coach Denise Lindeman said. "Kyrstin (Moore) has a rib out of place. Lyv's hobbled on one foot. It's just unbelievable. Lauren French was trying to get every rebound. Every kid stepped up and did just a phenomenal job."

Allen East, which trailed by as many as 10 points early in the third quarter after hitting just 19% of its first-half shots, mounted an improbable comeback. Hitting 41% of their second-half shots, the Mustangs got as close as one point, 46-45, with 36.6 seconds left after a pair of Soraya Jackson free throws. Those proved to be the final Mustang points, though.

Jackson had 12 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, for the Mustangs, along with 13 rebounds. Rilynn Jones had a team-high 13 points.

"In the second half, we really started to fight back, especially in that third quarter and some of that fourth quarter," said Allen East coach Ryan Montgomery. "The motto this week was 'fight back.' We knew it was going to be a boxing match. They were going to come out swinging, and we had to give some punches back."

The Mustangs, who finish the year at 21-3, had an answer for everything except French. The 6-foot-3 senior owned the boards, and she used her 3-inch height advantage in her favor, making it look easy to score.

"I love being physical. I love playing in the paint, and you can create so much for your team and your teammates," French said.

Coach Lindeman called it "big girl basketball."

"Lauren just played 'big girl basketball,' and her rebounding was absolutely phenomenal tonight," she said. "You know, she wanted the ball, and she finished for us."

The outstanding rebounding effort is just part of what she loves about basketball, French said.

"This might sound weird, but as soon as the ball goes up, you've got to chase it," she said. "As soon as it's released, I hit it. I want it. I'm going after it. That's my mentality."

French stepped up when the Wildcats needed her, the Tiffin University-bound Lyv Lindeman said.

"She kept telling me she had my back, so I had hers," Lindeman said. "Just being able to be out on that court today, I'm just so thankful and happy for her. She worked her tail off this whole season."

Delphos Jefferson 49, Allen East 45

Delphos Jefferson 14 7 12 16 — 49

Allen East 7 6 11 21 — 45

DELPHOS JEFFERSON

Kyah Kimmet 4, Madison Burris 3, Lyv Lindeman 16, Kyrstin Moore 6, Lauren French 20. Totals: 19-7-49.

ALLEN EAST

Rylie Jordan 2, Savana Brooks 9, Rilynn Jones 13, Aubrey Young 2, Dylan Miller 5, Soraya Jackson 12, Taylor Nickles 2. Totals: 18- 7- 45.

3-pointers: DJ-Moore 2, Burris 1, Lindeman 1. AE-Brooks 1, Miller 1.

Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.