Pembroke advances to first title game since '87
It has been a long time since Pembroke was a factor in Section V girls basketball.
The Lady Dragons can now say that they are, as they punched their ticket to the Class C2 finals for the first time since 1987 after defeating Clyde-Savannah, 45-39.
“We’ve put in a lot of time these last four years,” said Pembroke Head Coach Mike Wilson. “We’ve spent a lot of long hours in the gym. For a group of kids to step up and play the way they are playing right now is extremely special.”
One of the biggest reasons for Pembroke’s success is senior Breanna Johnson, the school’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
Johnson came out fast, scoring 16 of the Lady Dragons’ 23 points in the first half for a seven-point lead at the break.
However, Clyde-Savannah threw a wrench into the plan, as they switched from a man-to-man defense to a zone in the second half, causing Pembroke to go cold in the third quarter.
Pembroke would only manage to connect on one shot from the field in the frame, and the Lady Eagles would hold Johnson without a point in the third.
“We didn’t really move the ball as much as we should have,” Johnson said. “We weren’t cutting and we weren’t getting to the basket.”
While Johnson was unable to get anything going, Clyde-Savannah was taking it to the Dragons on the glass, out-rebounding them 38-25 for the game.
In particular, Ally Fenton had a monster game for the Lady Eagles taking advantage of Pembroke’s 2-3 zone, scoring 17 points and grabbing 15 rebounds (six offensive).
“We wanted to keep our girls out of foul trouble,” Wilson said. “We tend to play too aggressive in man-to-man and zone preserves our players.”
Leading just 27-24 going into the fourth quarter, Johnson came back to life. She made her first basket of the second half with on a three-pointer with just 1:58 left in the game.
In total, she scored 12 points in the last frame, racking up nine from the foul line to guarantee the victory.
“To have a kid like [her] play as well as she is,” continued Wilson. “Mel Taylor and Kelsey Bezon get a lot of press in the league, and they deserve it, but tonight Breanna Johnson showed that she deserves to be in the conversation. She does everything she can to help the team.”
Clyde-Savannah (12-6) was unable to answer the call, and the Lady Dragons escaped with the win.
Pembroke (15-5) already garnered their first sectional win since 2007, and now they return to the sectional finals for the first time in 27 years. The school has never won a sectional championship in girls basketball.
The Lady Dragons will take on top-seeded Lyons on Saturday at Rush-Henrietta High School. Tip-off will be 5 p.m.