Lomega and Ashley LaGasse broke hearts in Hammon again.
LaGasse scored 28 points and had two crucial steals in the fourth quarter as No. 2 Lomega defeated No. 1 Hammon 60-52 in the Class B girls semifinal Friday night at State Fair Arena.
Last year in the state championship game in the same arena, Lomega defeated Hammon 49-45 as LaGasse scored 25 points.
Again on Friday night, Hammon had no answer for LaGasse, who poured in 28 points. She did most of her damage from the free-throw line where she hit 17 of 24 attempts.
"I think if there had been a fire, she could have camped there, because she was there a lot," Hammon coach Lance Carpenter said. "She is a great player."
Lomega coach Keven Lewallen is used to such heroics by LaGasse.
“People always want to talk about Ashley,” said Lomega coach Kevin Lewallen. “I have seen that for four years. In the biggest moments, she steps up and comes through.”
After not making a 3-point shot in the first half, Lomega opened the third period by making three — two by senior Kylie Turner and one by LaGasse.
Lomega trailed by five points with 2:46 left in the third period but rallied to tie game 40-40 entering the fourth quarter.
The Lady Raiders scored the first seven of the period only to see Hammon close the margin to 47-45 with 3:43 left in the game.
That's when LaGasse took over. Her two free throws increased the lead to four, then she stole the ball and dished it to teammate Taylor Mendell for a three-point play and a 52-45 lead.
LaGasse stole the ball again on Hammond's next possession and converted two free throws on the other end of the floor, increasing the Lady Warriors lead to 54-45 and essentially icing the game.
LaGasse scored nine of her game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter, seven in the final 2:39. She also had five rebounds and two steals in the game.
“We started slow but just we finally started making a few shots,” LaGasse said. “Everything loosened up and we just relaxed and started playing.”
Lomega (27-6) now will get an opportunity to defend its state title against Erick in a noon championship game at State Fair Arena.
“We worked hard all season,” LaGasse said. “We lost a few games we shouldn't, but we wanted to come back (to the state title game).”
Seniors Kori Barrios and Peyton Walker scored 19 and 13 points for Hammon (26-5), which lost in the state championship game the past two seasons. Barrios also had 12 rebounds.