It certainly wasn't the storybook ending her fans wanted, but April Redus' excellent career with the Couch Lady Indians came to a close March 9.
Sitting on the bench with five fouls, Redus could only watch the last 1:55 of the game as the Lady Indians suffered a 51-45 loss to the Chadwick Lady Cardinals at Cabool High School in the Class 1 sectionals.
The loss keeps Couch (18-5) from reaching the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs for a fourth consecutive time during Redus' tenure as a Lady Indian.
It was obvious from the game's outset that it would be a long night for Couch, as the Lady Indians combined their worst-shooting performance of the year with a rash of costly turnovers that followed them all game long.
Opening the game tight, Couch started the game 0-for-seven from the floor, while Chadwick had no such problems on offense.
Turning a couple of steals into buckets, the Lady Cardinals raced out to an early lead, blanking Couch 13-0 late in the first period.
Kim LaBahn (six points) broke the ice for the Lady Indians with 51 seconds left in the frame by tossing in a free throw for Couch's first points of the night.
Sandy LaBahn (six points) added a charity toss of her own, but when the first period ended, the Lady Indians were in a whopping 13-2 hole.
Chadwick hit a rough spell on offense in the second period, keeping the door open for a Couch comeback.
Redus logged the Lady Indians' first field goal of the night at the 7:25 point of the second on a layup.
Redus paced Couch with a team-high 19 points.
Caitlyn Melton (six points) hit a jumper, and Redus tacked on four more points to keep the Lady Indians within striking distance.
Chadwick could manage just three points in the second period, and amazingly after the start they got off to, the Lady Indians trailed by just five, 16-11, at halftime.
This surge continued into the third period as a Lady Indian 9-2 spurt, capped by a layup from Ashley Hale, saw the game locked at 24-all.
It also saw Kim LaBahn saddled with four fouls, taking her out of the game, and opening up the middle of the lane for Chadwick.
The Lady Cardinals responded by going inside to Misty Bettis.
Bettis struck for four quick points as Chadwick regained the advantage.
Redus canned a layup with 10 seconds left in the period, pulling Couch within two, 30-28, going into the final frame.
Chadwick made sure this was as close as the Lady Indians would get during the stretch run, with the Lady Cardinals opening the fourth on a 5-zip run, to move ahead 35-28.
Couch just never found a comfortable groove on offense, either getting bad looks at the basket, or throwing errant passes to hinder their rally.
Kim LaBahn went five-for-six from the charity stripe late, and Redus hit her last basket at the 3:28 mark, but the Lady Indians just couldn't make it out of the hole they dug themselves in early.
Tonya Combs (six points) sank a layup with 30 seconds left in the game for the Lady Indians' last points of the year, with Chadwick knocking them out of the state playoffs with a six-point win.