By now, even the shouting is over as Coach Emmons and his Lady Bearcats head to Howell Central High School for the Sectional playoffs on Wednesday. The team won a nail-biter last Friday night in the Montgomery County R-2 High School gym, 72 to 68, against the Lutheran St. Charles Cougars, in overtime.
The first period opened up with a quick pace, as our Bearcats led 9-4 at just under three minutes to play. The Cougars roared back to take the lead 11-9 with a minute left and at the end of first period play, the score stood 12-12. It was going to be that kind of night. It was up and down the court with both teams taking points and the Bearcats up 23-20 with 1:53 to go in the second period. The Cougars scored four points within 30 seconds putting them up 24-23, but with eight seconds left, Grace Winkelmann hit a free throw to tie the game at half-time, 24-24.
The pace continued up and down the court and there was lots of shooting, misses, rebounds and fouls. The Bearcats, who have been deadly accurate with free throws much of the season, grew cold. Instead of hitting in the high-70’s percentile, they were hitting about half of what they shot. The coaches had to be wondering, in a tight game like this, would their free throw misses cost them the game?
With 3:44 left in the third period, the score was tied 33-33, when the Cougars hit two. Then Quincey Erickson hit for two and got fouled in the process. She hit one free throw putting the game at 37-33 in Hermann’s favor. With less than 50 seconds left in the period, Erickson hit a three-pointer, putting the score at 44-40, but this was answered with a two-pointer from the Cougars, putting the score at 44-42.
The tension in the gym was mounting over the frustration of neither team dominating—it was going to go down to the wire.
At the start of the fourth period, the Bearcats had three steals within a minute and a half of play, but had trouble scoring with the opportunities, before Winkelmann hit for two points, putting the score at 46-44. At 5:19 left to play, the Cougars pulled ahead 49-46. As play ensued, with 2:09 on the clock and the score tied 53-53, Erickson and Stiers both hit 3-pointers taking the lead back 56-53.
The Bearcats had some free throw opportunities, but couldn’t hit, as the Cougars pulled ahead 62-59 within a gnat’s hair of the buzzer, when Quincy Erickson charged down the right side, planted her feet and with steely focus and 1.5 seconds on the clock, let the ball fly. All eyes were on the ball’s arc as it entered the net, forcing the Cougars into overtime, with the score 62-62.
The four minute overtime regulation went fast. The Cougars scored first, Allison Stiers hit for two, the Cougars scored, Winkelmann hit for three points, putting the Cougars up 67-66. The Bearcats went into stall mode in an effort to force fouls and it worked with Stiers getting fouled three times within two minutes. The score stood at 72-68 when the regulation time ended. The Bearcats had just won the Class 3 District 8 Championship.
Allison Stiers had a monster game as top scorer with 24 points. She was 8 for 9 at the free throw line and hit two 3-pointers. The team had 41 rebounds (27 is about average), with Stiers pulling in 13 of those, 12 while on defense. She had eight assists, three steals and created five turnovers. Quincy Erickson was right behind Stiers, scoring 22 points, hitting three for seven 3-pointers (including the money shot, creating overtime) and was three for seven at the free throw line. She had 10 rebounds, nine on defense and created five turnovers.
Grace Winkelmann and Emma Godat scored 13 and 11 points respectively and had good defensive games as well.
“Our girls never gave in, even when we were down five with 22 seconds left,” said Coach Emmons. “A lot of teams would start to press and make mistakes but our girls hit some huge shots. We did not play our best game, but when it mattered, players made big plays. It was a fun game to coach and the atmosphere was electric. This team has worked really hard and deserves to win a district title.”
On Wednesday night, we play Lutheran North. They are a very talented team who is very athletic. They have two talented players in Madison Buford and Kaylynn Hayden both averaging 15 points a game. The rest of their team is lightning fast and play very hard. It will be quite a challenge and should be a lot of fun.”