Team Indiana, the defending national champion, knocked the Red Heat out of contention in the semifinals by a score of 68-45.
Team Indiana showed an advantage before the tipoff of the semifinal matchup, with three girls going 5-10 while Lincoln's post players were all 5-06.
The Red Heat started slowly in the semifinal game while Team Indiana couldn't miss. Team Indiana made good use of its size advantage, scoring at will inside to build a double-digit lead. The Red Heat trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half, but had trimmed the deficit to nine at the intermission.
Lincoln had the opening possession of the second half and opened with a three-pointer to make it a six-point game. The margin remained at six until the clock fell under 11 minutes to play. That's when Team Indiana nailed a 3, then stole the inbounds pass and scored again to go back up by 11.
Rowe called timeout when the Team Indiana lead hit 15 points. With five minutes to play, the Lincoln coaches decided to put in the bench players for the remainder of the game.
Team Indiana showed no mercy against the Red Heat reserves, using a full-court press until the final buzzer to blow out the Red Heat 68-45.
In the third-place consolation game, the Red Heat coaching staff decided to include its bench players throughout the action and not just at the end.
"The coaches and parents all agreed that it was more important that all the girls get to play significant minutes in the final game for third-place on Wednesday than it was to win the game," noted Rowe.
The Delaware Angels came out on top in the consolation game, beating the Red Heat 52-41.
The Lincoln squad ended the tournament just as it had started — in a loss.
The Red Heat dropped its first game in Pool Play 41-40 to the Mass Destruction Elite squad, a team that had beat out 30 other squads in the New England District Division I Tournament in April.
By dropping its first game in Pool Play, the Red Heat had to win its remaining Pool Play games to advance to the national championship tournament.
And win they did. The Red Heat players posted back-to-back blowouts, romping 66-30 over Indiana Team Elite Blue and 61-41 over the West North Carolina Lady Royals to advance to the Sweet 16.
Lincoln faced a familiar foe as it began Sweet 16 play, taking on the Louisville Jaguars. The Red Heat had defeated the Louisville Jaguars in March for the state AAU championship in overtime 40-36.
The margin would be just as close in the national matchup — and the outcome would be the same. The Red Heat collected a 55-50 win over the Louisville Jaguars, who were undefeated in the tourney going into the game, to reach the Elite Eight round. Lincoln emerged as victor in the game despite the Jaguars showing a 27-5 edge over the Red Heat at the free throw line.
It was another close call for the Red Heat in the quarterfinal, Elite Eight, round. Lincoln and Indiana Lady Legit faced off in the matchup and Rowe said the Red Heat had to "out fight" Lady Legit to punch its ticket for the Final Four.
The Final Four round had Lincoln and Team Indiana facing off in one game while Cincinnati Heat Premiere Gold and the Delaware Angels met in the other game.
Cincinnati Heat Premiere Gold defeated the Delaware Angels to reach the finals, then dethroned reigning champion Team Indiana in the final to earn the title of 2009 National Champion.
First-place or fourth-place, Lincoln County Middle School principal Debbie Sims, who is the mother of Red Heat player Spencer Sims, let the team and coaches know that she had the perfect spot to showcase the national trophy saying, "This trophy will have a nice home in my office (at LCMS)."
Although the national title eluded the Lincoln squad, the team still found time to celebrate. Before the players, their coaches and parents departed Indianapolis, the group enjoyed a night out at "Friday's" to celebrate their tourney accomplishments, and also the birthdays of players MaKenzie Carrier and Adison Corder.