There was a running theme uttered frequently in Lenape's gym Saturday night.

Referees said it when they stepped between two heated players. Coaches said it they when they felt like a physical, testy game was getting out of hand:

"You have to play through it," Lenape girls' basketball coach Rob Hummel said. "Don't get caught up in anything that isn't basketball.

"Just keep playing."

The Indians' ability to do just that - to let nothing rattle them - was the difference in a 46-34 win over Cherokee in the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals.

The game was played in a loud, packed gym, and the action was chippy even by the standard set in two previous games between these bitter rivals.

But Lenape never wavered. The second-seeded Indians stuck to their trademark relentless man-to-man defense, stifling No. 3 Cherokee's offense for long stretches.

"It's an amazing win," said junior forward Maddie Sims, whose team moved on to the final at top-seeded Shawnee on Tuesday. "This was by far the most physical game we've played all year."

Sims paired a game-high 15 points with 10 rebounds. Senior guard Mackenzi McErlean chipped in with 14 points.

Cherokee (22-5) did not have a player in double figures. Senior forward Taylor McGlashan scored nine.

"We couldn't get over the hump and score the points when we needed to," said Cherokee coach Shannon Bretz, whose team lost to the Indians three times this season. "Lenape really made us take difficult shots, and they weren't falling tonight."

With 6 minutes, 1 second to play in the first quarter, Shaye McGoey hit a free throw to give the Chiefs a 5-2 lead. It was their last point until Isabella Therien's free throw with 3:20 left in the second - a scoring drought of more than 10 minutes.

Lenape (25-3) rattled off 10 points in that span and never trailed again.

"We knew it was going to be a battle the entire time and we knew we were going to have to come out and fight harder and want the ball more every time," McErlean said.

McErlean scored nine of her 14 points in the fourth quarter. Lenape began the quarter with a 10-point lead, its largest to that point. Cherokee cut it to five points before a 13-2 run by Lenape.

"We battled through a couple of lulls to pull away in the fourth quarter," Hummel said.

Cherokee 5 7 6 16 - 34

Lenape 8 8 12 18 - 46

C: Isabella Therien 6, Cailey Gibson 2, Shaye McGoey 7, Leah Reistle 6, Sammy Debicki 2, Taylor McGlashan 9, Jamie Manzo 2.

L: Alicia Hampton 2, Shane Holmes 4, Mackenzi McErlean 14, Alex Seedes 11, Maddie Sims 15.