The Pretty Prairie girls seemingly had Pratt Skyline defeated midway through the fourth quarter Tuesday evening. Instead, they had to wait and put away the Lady Thunderbirds in overtime.
With only minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Bulldog Tiffani Hines hit a jumper from outside the lane to give her team a double-digit advantage at 11, but then the T-Bird three-point show began. Kaitlyn Stark and Janessa Davis hit back-to-back treys to bring it within five. Emily Moore would later draw a foul and hit one of two from the charity stripe to pad their lead by one, but Stark came back for yet another three with 7.3 seconds left in regulation play.
Morgan Flowers fouled Hines, sending her to the line with 4.9 remaining, only to have her miss both. As the T-Birds watched the clock wane, Stark visibly stunned everyone in the gym – including herself – by sinking a buzzer-beater from about five feet beyond the top of the key to force an overtime.
With Hines in possession of the ball, the hero Stark fouled out of the game and sent Hines back to the line. This time, Hines nailed both.
Many fouls followed and Davis brought Skyline back within one by hitting one free-throw. Hines went back to the line for Pretty Prairie, again hitting both, but Davis again went to the stripe and responded by securing both shots and reducing the Bulldog lead to one.
Selena Wapelhorst fed Shanay Wewe who put the ball in and give the Bulldogs a three-point advantage. Wewe would again get the Bulldogs on the board with a free-throw to make it a two-possession ballgame.
Skyline’s Brooke Fisher brought the Thunderbirds back within two, and on the next possession she fouled out of the game, sending Bulldog Whitney Grilliot to the line. Grilliot hit one of two with six seconds remaining. This time, the Thunderbirds failed to capitalize on their final possession, handing Pretty Prairie the win.
Bulldog head coach C.T. Young was proud of his girls as they opened Heart of the Plains League play with a 1-0 record and move to an overall record of 6-3, though he would have rather the game ended in regulation play.
I thought in the second half we played better. I thought in the first half we played defense really well.
“In the second half, we started executing better,” said Young. “We were up by 11, and I thought we pretty well had it under control. But give (Skyline) credit, they hit some deep threes. We helped them out with some free throws. I told them after the game everything that could go wrong went wrong, and we still found a way to win. We can move forward and learn from it.”
The Bulldog girls trailed 2-1 through much of the first quarter, until Hines hit a jumper to end the quarter 3-2. They added to their advantage throughout the half, closing the stanza at 10-7.
“I thought in the first half, we played defense really well,” said Young.
The third quarter brought eight lead changes, before closing with a 22-17 Bulldog advantage.
Hines led the Bulldogs in scoring with 16. Kristin Haflich also hit double figures for Pretty Prairie with 11. Stark was the leading scorer for Skyline, also pouring in 16 points.
The Bulldogs, who earlier this year defeated Skyline 31-22 in tournament play, will face Norwich on Friday. Skyline will go up against Fairfield.