Posted Online: Feb. 04, 2013, 9:41 pm

Double-OT heartbreaker ends Spartans' season as ROWVA moves on

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By Terry Duckett,

ANNAWAN — Four quarters weren't enough to decide a winner in the Class 1A Annawan girls' basketball regional opener Monday night.

As it turned out, one four-minute overtime period also wasn't enough to determine a winner between Lincoln Trail Conference rivals Ridgewood and ROWVA.

After a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Ridgewood junior guard Morgan Green forced the first overtime, ROWVA sophomore reserve Matti Gardner repaid the favor by nailing a trey with 3.4 seconds left in the extra session to re-tie the score. Gardner then scored four of the Lady Tigers' seven points in the second OT as they gutted out a 59-57 victory over the Spartans.

"You just have to go back to basics," said Gardner, whose two free throws with 11.3 seconds left in the second overtime broke a 57-57 tie. "Just do what you know you can do."

Of her 3-pointer in the first OT, which knotted the score at 52-all, Gardner said: "I think that gave us more confidence. It gave us another chance, and we knew we could do it."

Fifth-seeded Ridgewood (14-14) did have one more chance to extend the game or bump off the fourth-seeded Tigers (15-12), but a shot by sophomore Katie Miller missed the mark, and the ball was tied up as time expired, leaving the Spartans heartbroken.

"This one was tough," said Ridgewood coach Bryan Brooks. "What's disappointing is that we were looking forward to another chance at playing Annawan. It's a bad end to our season, but I'm still proud of how we played after starting out 2-10. We had a lot of juniors and sophomores play this year, so the potential is pretty high for next year."

However, Brooks felt the potential to advance to Wednesday's 6 p.m. semifinal matchup with the top-seeded Bravettes (24-2) was lost when the Spartans saw an early third-quarter 34-21 lead, which was fueled by a 10-0 run that carried over from the first half, slowly evaporate.

A trey by another ROWVA sophomore, Mikaylin Bent, closed the gap to 37-31 entering the fourth quarter. After the Tigers caught up to Ridgewood, the teams played hot potato with the lead.

ROWVA appeared to have it won in regulation when Bent hit two free throws with 33.8 seconds to play, and Emma Johnson hit a pair of freebies after an intentional foul call to give the Tigers a 46-43 lead and the ball. But after being fouled, Gardner missed the front end of a 1-and-1, leading to Green's game-tying heroics.

"Our girls fought back," said Brooks, "but for some reason, we didn't bring our 'A' game tonight. When we got down, we didn't play good defense, something we'd done all year. We tried man-to-man, zone, but we kept losing their shooters, and they shot with a lot of confidence."

Gardner's 15 points was augmented by 12 apiece from Bent and Johnson. Ashley Collins drained three 3-balls and tallied 13 points to pace Ridgewood, with Green and Jasmine Jefko each notching 11 points and six rebounds and Madison Miller adding four steals.