Providence Academy senior forward Grace Counts sported a bruise under right eye Friday and wielded a bag of ice to keep the swelling at bay.
A small price to pay for another shot at a girls basketball state championship.
The 6-1 Counts was the perfect counterbalance to freshman teammate Maddyn Greenway's freewheeling, helter-skelter style as the Lions beat rival Minnehaha Academy 83-63 in the Class 2A semifinals at Williams Arena. While Greenway drove, darted and launched her way to a team-leading 33 points — her 18th game with 30 or more points this season — Counts was poised and darn near perfect, making all nine of her shots en route to 20 points and hauling in 14 rebounds
"It was super physical," Counts said, the purplish knot under her eye providing proof. "They are our rival school. We're giving it all we've got, sacrificing our bodies. We just had to match their physicality and play our game on top of it."
After the quarterfinals, the Minnehaha players, and coach Matt Pryor, said they were happy to get another shot at Providence, which had beaten them twice during the regular season.
The plan was to lure Greenway into foul trouble, drawing charges resulting from her frenetic style. Greenway was called for four fouls, not as many as the Redhawks hoped. And when Greenway missed shots, Counts was always there to clean it up.
"We went in with a game plan of taking charges on Greenway, and we thought there were a couple of missed ones," Pryor said. "I was very proud of our defensive game plan. We get a couple more of those charge calls going our way in the first half, it's a totally different ballgame."
Pryor admitted his team simply didn't have an answer for Grace Counts and her 6-2 sophomore sister, Hope, who had four points and five rebounds.
"That's part of what makes Providence great. As special a player as Greenway is, it's a team game," Pryor said. "When you have a pair of Counts sisters who can clean up on the board for you, that's huge. Other 2A teams just don't have the kind of length."
Providence Academy improved to 29-2. Minnehaha Academy slipped to 23-8.