FORT WAYNE - Penn's historic bid for a state championship ended up on the short end to a tall and talented Jeffersonville team Saturday night.
The No. 3 Kingsmen had a devil of a time trying to deal with the Red Devils' three-headed post play of Brooke Valentine, Lakin Roland and Jalynn McClain.
The outstanding trio combined for 40 points and 21 rebounds to lead the No. 7 Red Devils to a 43-29 win in the Class 4-A finale in the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
Tori Milliner scored 12 points to pace Penn, which finishes at 23-2.
The Kingsmen did not return home empty-handed in its first trip to State.
Penn's Ashley Lutz, the lone senior starter for the Kingsmen, won the Mental Attitude Award.
A slow start doomed the Kingsmen in this one.
The physical Red Devils, behind its 6-1 duo of Roland and Valentine, rolled to a 11-1 lead.
Jeffersonville led 17-5 after the opening period and 21-9 at halftime. Penn, which scored a season low, was just 4-18 in the opening half.
“The first quarter was the difference,'' said Penn coach Kristi Kaniewski. “We got train-wrecked. Our offense was not fluid. Credit their defense. They were physical.''
Penn still trailed 26-19 heading into the final period. The Kingsmen did get within 30-24 midway through the final quarter, thanks to the free throw line.
Jeffersonville answered the challenge with a 6-0 run to make it 36-24 as Penn struggled from the field.
The Red Devils hit 7-of-15 free throws in the final stanza to pull away. Penn did not make a field goal in the final frame until Lauren Strachan banked in a 3-pointer with five seconds to play.
“They did what we thought, we could just not dig out of that early hole,'' Kaniewski said. “They did a tremendous job rebounding.
“We had a couple of breakdowns late and they found openings and scored.
“I'm so proud of how my kids fought and battled the whole game. I'm so proud of them. They can't hang their heads. They accomplished so much this season.''
Penn was just 8-32 shooting, including 2-11 on threes. The Red devils held a 26-15 edge on the glass.
“I'm just kind of shell-shocked right now,'' said Jeffersonville coach Chad Gilbert. “Our kids had the will to win tonight and that's the sign of a champion.
“We wanted to get off to a good start. We knew they would have trouble guarding us man and then we got good shots versus their zone. I have two of the most unselfish guards in the state. They turned down good shots to get us great shots. We were able to lock them down with our defense.”
Jeffersonville, which was also making its first State Finals trip, finishes at 28-2.
Penn loses four seniors in Ashley Lutz, Olivia Daggy, Lauren Strachan and Alex Croy.
Ashley Lutz had six points in her final prep contest. Top scorer Alex Morton, who averages 14, finished with three for Penn.