COLFAX — The Lexington High School girls basketball team's storybook season encountered a formidable roadblock Thursday at the Ridgeview Class 1A Sectional.
And faced with the quickness and skill of No. 2-ranked Danville Schlarman, the Minutemen could find no path around it.
The Hilltoppers scored the first 10 points of the second and third quarters to pull away en route to a 60-29 sectional championship victory.
"We didn't play our game, but they had a lot to do with it. That's a very good team," Lexington coach Bill Elias said. "I'm still proud of them. Now we know how we have to play to compete with teams like that."
The sophomore-dominated Minutemen bowed out at 17-10. Schlarman (30-1) advanced to Monday's 6 p.m. Pontiac Super-Sectional and will face No. 1 Annawan in a rematch of the State Farm Holiday Classic small school title game won by Annawan, 56-46.
Led by the 16 first-half points of Anaya Peoples, a junior committed to Notre Dame, the Hilltoppers led 30-10 at the break.
"Our game plan has always been the same since day one: pressure the ball, push the ball up the floor, take high percentage shots, play for each other and rebound," said Schlarman coach Keith Peoples, Anaya's father. "We want to try to force teams to do things they're not normally used to doing."
Lexington was within 10-6 before the Hilltoppers closed the first quarter on a 5-2 surge. The Minutemen did not score again until a Kaitlyn Little basket with 2:57 remaining in the half.
"We knew we would have a tough matchup with the Peoples girl," Elias said. "We felt we had to stay man (defense). They've got too many weapons. Even when we went zone, we weren't rebounding."
Anaya Peoples finished with 22 points and Capria Brown added 18 for Schlarman, which outrebounded Lexington, 37-33.
"We knew we were going to play hard, and I really think we left it all on the floor," said Raelyn Payne, the Minutemen's only senior starter. "From where we started at the beginning of the year, we definitely improved tremendously. It's a tough one to swallow, but they'll do good next year."
Layken McGuire led Lexington with 11 points, while Payne chipped in six. Jayden Standish grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Minutemen trailed 50-15 through three quarters and had their best offensive output in the final period with 14 points.
"We're playing from behind, and you don't catch up on a team like that," Elias said. "They were a good transition team, and they took our fast break away. We just had a mental letdown tonight, not a good time to do that."
Peoples topped Schlarman with eight rebounds. The Hilltoppers committed 10 turnovers to 19 for Lexington.