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STANFORD - The shots weren't falling Thursday night for Flanagan High School's girls basketball team. However, the Falcons' quick hands and feet were working at peak efficiency.

Top-seeded Flanagan used its defense to force No. 9 seed Tri-Valley into 20 first-half turnovers, building a 36-11 lead on the way to a 61-31 victory in the championship game of the Olympia Class A Regional.

The Falcons earned the second regional title in school history despite shooting 30 percent from the field and committing 17 turnovers. They did it by speeding up Tri-Valley's offense, leading to 26 percent shooting and 29 turnovers.

"That's our main goal, to keep people up to a fast tempo and take them out of their game," said Flanagan senior guard Brittany Leonard, who scored a game-high 13 points. "All of us are able to run. We're all the same level and the same speed. We work together and we can just read each other."

The Falcons (25-3) advanced to the Central Catholic Sectional semifinals and will face Eureka Regional champion Illini Bluffs at 6 p.m. Monday.


From B1

Sophomores Caitlyn Jones and Anna Jones added 11 and eight points, respectively, for Flanagan, which offset its field-goal shooting with 23 of 29 free-throw accuracy. The Falcons made 19 of 23 in the first half.

Leonard was 9 of 12 from the line and grabbed seven rebounds, tying 6-foot senior Kelsie Laughlin for team-high honors.

"The kids got after it," Flanagan coach Jeff Sprouse said. "We got off to a great start (a 16-3 lead). I was very pleased with that. We're all about being intense, getting up and down the floor, using our athleticism and using our speed for four quarters consistently.

"Everybody always thinks the press is what we score off of. You do in spurts, but it's the defense that gets you the stops and gives you more offensive looks, even if we're not shooting a great percentage."

Flanagan led 7-3 nearly five minutes into the game before taking control with a 9-0 run. The Falcons led 16-6 after one quarter, and made 11 of 13 free throws in the second period to create the 25-point halftime cushion.

Senior guard Danielle Alpers scored eight points, while junior center Shayla Pelo added seven points and nine rebounds for Tri-Valley (14-14). The Vikings were 4 of 21 from the field (19 percent) in the first half.

"They definitely played at the tempo they wanted," Tri-Valley coach Todd Schneider said. "We wanted to slow it down, but by the time we finally got to where we could slow the tempo down, we were already down by 15 or 20 points. Then you have to play a little faster pace because you can't hold the ball.

"I think we were looking forward to the challenge. It just kind of hit us a little bit early."


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