LEXINGTON To say Josh Fortney has been thinking about this game for a while would be a vast understatement.
Countless nights Fortney has lost sleep and replayed in his head last year's 52-43 loss to Colonel Crawford in the Division IV district semifinal at Lexington High School.
He's seen his spiked haircut lose a few spikes and had other hair pinnacles turn gray on him.
But after watching Julie Adelsperger shoot the ball in the third quarter Thursday night against Colonel Crawford, he can throw out that Rogaine and Just for Men hair coloring.
Adelsperger scored 11 straight third quarter points as Mohawk exacted its revenge of the Eagles, knocking out Colonel Crawford, 58-43, on the same stage and round as last season's devastating loss.
"She was mad at the end of the (first) half. She had a point to prove in the second half," Fortney said. "If it was possible, I probably grew back some hair when we started making those (shots). Maybe some of the gray (hair) turned brown again."
Adelsperger knows how Fortney feels, and not just because he'd talked about the game pretty much exclusively for the last month.
Last year, Adelsperger was in the same spot that her sister Kasey finds herself in: on the sideline, in street clothes, healing from knee surgery.
"It was frustrating (to sit and watch last year)," Adelsperger said. "We knew that we had some business to do tonight to come back and take care of these guys."
She certainly made her presence felt Thursday night with 18 points and seven rebounds.
"Yeah, she (surprised us with 18) points. They have different threats. One game it can be a different girl," Colonel Crawford coach Amber Rall said. "We just didn't find her and didn't get out on shooters."
Adelsperger helped key a scoring assault that left Colonel Crawford scrambling.
Down just three at half, the Eagles (18-6) got a bucket from Nickayla Garverick to cut it to 24-23 just a minute into the second half.
But a minute and a half later, Mohawk began its 3-point barrage. Sarah Runion banged home a pair of 3s around a Sarah Parker bucket in the paint.
A pair of Colonel Crawford buckets in that same span kept it the margin close, 32-27, before the Adelsperger shooting show began. The junior wing drained two 3s, added another baseline jumper and finished the assault with a 3-pointer with 12 seconds to go in the third to give Mohawk (20-4) a 43-31 lead at the break.
"We knew we needed to get open on the outside because Garverick was being really good on the inside. So outside shots were pretty much our only option," Adelsperger said. "I definitely had a lot more intensity and it boosted my confidence a lot (after the first 3-pointer)."
It was the closest Colonel Crawford would get the rest of the game.
"We gave up nine threes and didn't play the best defense possible. It's a good team. They have a lot of shooters," Rall said. "What was happening was we were getting beat on penetration and it would lead to open shots."
Fortney said the plan was to let anyone beat them but Garverick, who finished with a game-high 21 points and nine boards as the post drew double teams all night, leaving Colonel Crawford's other players open.
"We haven't seen (that) a whole lot," Rall said of Mohawk's defensive strategy. "They put two on Nickayla obviously and wanted our other players to beat (them). We didn't get the best out of the other players but I felt they worked hard."
Fortney said that strategy left some of his players asking questions at half.
"We left a lot of wide open shots for them. We were going to try to slow the Garverick girl as much as possible and know where the (Bailey) Schott girl was at and try to stop her and let three or four other girls beat us," Fortney said. "I think we did that. I had girls ask me questions at half, 'Do we give them the wide open looks?' I asked them if we were getting under the bucket or with outside shots. They said under the bucket. 'That's where I want you.'"
Garverick was held to nine points in the second half.
Adelsperger's efforts were backed by 17 from Sarah Runion, including four 3-pointers, and 11 from Lynsey Trusty, who had a double-double with her 10 assists.
"I'm really happy with the way we played," Fortney said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself as a coach to prepare for this and we've been preparing for this for a (few) weeks now. For the girls to come to practice, work hard and finish off our regular season and still focus on what we had to do against these guys, I'm just really proud of these kids."
Mohawk moves on to face Norwalk St. Paul on Saturday night back at Lexington High School at 7 p.m. The Flyers (16-8) upended South Central, 65-55, in the first game of the night behind 21 points from Bella Stoll and 17 from Allie Fitzgerald. Erin Kramer added 12 in the victory.