Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2013, 11:20 pm
Bravettes use huge final quarter to reach LTC tourney finals
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MONMOUTH — Eight minutes away from a potential bronze-medal date at the Lincoln Trail Conference girls' basketball tournament, Annawan showed what it was made of Thursday night.
Trailing Biggsville West Central by 11 points entering the fourth quarter of their semifinal tilt at United High School, the Bravettes got on the run they were waiting for all evening and never slowed down as they outscored the Heat 21-2 over the final eight minutes to earn a 55-47 victory.
"That was a little rough," said Annawan coach Jason Burkiewicz, whose club improved to 18-2. "West Central played a very good game, and they had a good gameplan on how to defend Celina (VanHyfte). I thought in the first half, we were creating turnovers by forcing travels, but they weren't getting called. Our girls recognized that, and it caused a little anxiety with them."
Junior Megan Foes knocked down a 3-pointer to get the Bravettes started in the fourth quarter, and the guard duo of junior Maddie Jackson and freshman Morgan VanHyfte raised their games. Jackson scored six of her seven points in the fourth period, and VanHyfte tallied nine of her 11 points in that span to fuel Annawan's fire.
And even though West Central did its best to keep her in check, Celina VanHyfte still worked her way to a game-high 23 points. Foes finished with 12 in her return from a foot injury.
"That makes us more multi-dimensional," said Burkiewicz. "We kept saying, we've got to get this done together and have each others' backs. They concentrated on trying to shut down Celina, but others stepped up in the nick of time and made plays. Celina's carried us so much, it was nice to have her back."
Awaiting Annawan in Saturday's 4:30 p.m. championship game will be Stark County. The Lady Rebels battled past Wethersfield 50-48 in Thursday's second semifinal and will be playing for their first LTC Tournament title in 10 years. The Bravettes are going for their third crown in a row and fourth in the last five years.
The Lady Geese (18-5) will take on West Central in the 2:45 p.m. third-place game. The 1 p.m. fifth-place contest will feature Ridgewood against Mercer County. In Thursday's losers' bracket semis, the Spartans routed Galva 52-33 and the Golden Eagles beat ROWVA 41-37 in triple overtime.
The ninth-seeded Golden Eagles (7-17) held off ROWVA's fourth-quarter comeback to upset the fifth seed for a shot at fifth place.
ROWVA (13-9) forced overtime with a basket with 14 seconds remaining in regulation.
In the third overtime, the game was tied at 37 heading into the final minute when Michaela Baker stole the ball, was fouled and hit 1 of 2 free throws. On the miss, Kimi Nelson got the rebound and was fouled, nailing her two freebies. Nelson later split a pair with 1.9 seconds showing for the final score.
The win was the first-ever over ROWVA for the Mercer County girls' basketball program. The Eagles have won six of their last nine games now, with the only losses coming twice to state-rated Annawan and once to fellow LTC finalist Stark County.
Mercer County's Kristen Heath led all scorers with 14 points. Matti Gardner finished with 11 points to top ROWVA's attack.