CENTER POINT — After nearly 27 minutes of traded leads and big momentum shifts, the Central DeWitt and Center Point-Urbana girls basketball teams found themselves right where they started in Tuesday’s 4A Region 4 final.
All tied up.
Down four at one point in the fourth quarter, the Sabers pulled even again with the Stormin’ Pointers when Central DeWitt sophomore Allie Meadows made it 36-36 with a big three-pointer.
But just as it proved during the teams’ regular season meeting, Center Point-Urbana is at its best in tight situations.
The Pointers showed it again Tuesday, answering Meadows’ three with six straight points that gave them the lead for good in a 49-44 victory.
Meadows followed up her three-pointer by coming up with a steal on the defensive end and the Sabers had a chance to take the lead.
A blocked shot, however, gave the ball back to the Pointers and it was the hosts that broke the tie with a hoop inside.
Four straight free throws, meanwhile, made it 42-36. Both sets of free throws came after Center Point-Urbana grabbed offensive rebounds of its own misses.
The Sabers did not back down. They hit four free throws of their own — two apiece from Taylor Veach and Meadows — to get back within two and had another chance to tie when the Pointers threw their inbounds pass out of bounds.
Center Point-Urbana, though, stole the Sabers’ inbounds pass and hit two more free throws to make it a four-point game.
The Sabers kept pace, picking up two points on a Grace Pierce offensive put-back and then answering two more Pointers free throws with a Veach drive to the hoop.
On its next trip down the floor, Center Point-Urbana was only able to hit one free throw and the Sabers had a chance to tie, but their three-point try was off the mark with less than 10 seconds to go and the hosts hit two more free throws to create the final margin.
Things were back-and-forth early. The Pointers hit a three-pointer then converted a three-point play to open a 6-2 lead, but three-pointers by Meadows and Veach coupled with a second Meadows hoop put the Sabers in front 10-7.
A Center Point-Urbana three knotted things up at 10 and it was 12-12 when the Pointers beat the first quarter buzzer to take a 14-12 lead.
After Central DeWitt briefly went back in front 17-16 on a Pierce three-pointer, the Pointers threatened to take over the game behind nine straight points.
Instead, the Sabers answered their host’s big run with one of their own.
Veach knocked down a pair of shots and Madi McAvan buried a three before Pierce capped a 10-1 push with her own trey from the corner to give the Sabers a 27-26 lead at the half.
The Sabers also struck first in the second half — Talbot Kinney grabbed a teammate’s miss and put it home — but only scored three points in the third quarter.
That allowed the Pointers, who had their own offensive troubles with six points in the third, to go back in front and Center Point-Urbana stayed there until Meadows’ three with 5:30 to play tied things up and set up the host’s late push.
Veach led the way for the Sabers with 17 points, while also grabbing a team-high six rebounds.
Meadows added 11 points, while Pierce had eight to go with five boards.
Kinney also had five rebounds and led the Sabers with four assists and two steals. Meadows had two assists and joined Natalie Butler and McAvan with individual steals.