Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tiger Girls Grab Winning Season, Win Double Overtime Thriller Over Shamrocks, Take Second in Districts to Finish 14-13

Worth County’s girls exorcized 11 years of futility Thursday night as they beat North Harrison 54-50 in double overtime to clinch their first winning season in 11 years. It looked like it might go to a third overtime as Anna Gladstone, on the line with six seconds left in the extra period, missed two free throws with Worth County up 52-50, the second one going in and out. But in the twinkling of an eye, none of that mattered as Jessi Badell grabbed the errant shot and put it back in; all Brandy Rivet could do was a full court heave that went wide left as time expired.

It was like the world series game last fall, where it took all the skill in the world from the Cubs to overcome 108 years of futility. Worth County had downed East Harrison, but were facing an 18-win team in North Harrison, who had beaten them 44-42 during the regular season. But it was a completely different game that took shape as Worth County raced out to a big early lead. Kaylee McElvain scored off a drive to start the game and Audry Briggs countered for North Harrison to tie it at 2. But then Worth County went off to the races sparked by a triple from Regan Allee from the right wing off a pass from McElvain. Kristin New added a drive and jumped a pass for a layup, Anna Gladstone scored off another steal, and Regan Allee added another triple to make it 14-2 with 3:54 left in the first as Worth County scored 12 points in a 1:47 span.

North Harrison sought to ride Payton Craig’s back and got back under double digits late in the first as she scored six of the next eight points as they closed to within 19-10. But then Jessi Badell converted a second chance shot into two free throws and Anna Gladstone went coast to coast, took on Brandi Rivet, and got her layup try to go down as the Tigers went  up 23-10 after one.

Once again, North Harrison responded despite a Kaylee McElvain block as Craig started going to the rack at will in the second quarter, picking up five more as Worth County finally started cooling off from the field. Craig’s drive with 1:36 left got the score under 10 again at 28-20, but then Anna Gladstone raced up the floor as she has done so many times and found Kristin New and Kaylee McElvain added a backdoor look off a pass from New to make it 33-20. Things looked roses for Worth County as Anna Gladstone took a charge on Craig with 8 seconds left and Badell added a free throw to make it 34-20 at halftime.

But it was only a matter of time before North Harrison’s run came, and they started coming on strong in the third as Craig jumped a pair of passes to get it down to 36-29 at the four minute mark. The Shamrocks got a lot more production from their supporting cast in the second half to get back in the game. They got as close as six in the third before Kristin New’s free throw made it 40-33 at the end of the quarter.

For Craig, enemy defenders have to pick their poison against her, and Worth County left her open to start the fourth from downtown instead of letting her drive, and she connected to make it 40-36. Regan Allee scored a free throw and got her to the bench with four fouls on a charge/block to make it 41-36, but it didn’t matter as the supporting cast came alive. North Harrison did what they did in the first game as Briley McClain and Kiley Gibson all went to the rack at will as they erased Worth County’s lead as McLain scooped up a carom and made a layup to put them up 43-42. Regan Allee’s free throws put Worth County back in charge at 44-43, but Audry Briggs’ free throw tied it up at 44 with 2:21 left.

The score stayed there for the rest of regulation. Regan Allee missed a triple that would have put Worth County up, but Craig missed a runner and Brandy Rivet missed a triple with 1:12 left. Anna Gladstone missed a runner and Jessi Badell missed a putback try and North Harrison sought to run it down for the last shot. But Gladstone swiped the ball from Craig to set up a last shot for Worth County. But Kristin New missed a good look from the left wing as time expired to send it to overtime.

Neither team could break the ice in the first extra period until Briley McClain grabbed an errant shot and hit two free throws with 2:07 left. But Payton Adwell, who had only scored one up to that point, scored from backdoor off a pass from Badell to tie it up. Kiley Gibson missed a runner with 1:08 left and the tieup went to North Harrison. Jessi Badell stole the ball with 1:02 left, but a bad pass gave the ball back to North Harrison with 45 seconds. Payton Craig had a late shot go down to win it in the regular season game, but she couldn’t get either a drive or a putback try to go down and Worth County got the ball back with 27 seconds left. Worth County tried to run it down again, but Craig stole the ball with 9 seconds left, and a good look from McLain on the baseline missed, sending it to another extra period.

Krissi Cox’s drive resulted in two free throws, but Badell scored from inside off a pass from Regan Allee to tie it at 48 again. Worth County got a stop and a chance to take the lead, but there was a heartstopping moment as the shot missed and two black shirts fell trying to get the offensive board. But with North Harrison going 5 on 3, Jessi Badell took a charge on Brandy Rivet and no harm was done.

The resultant possession resulted in a 3-pointer on the left baseline for Worth County. Briley McLain hit two free throws with 1:30 left to make it 51-50, but then Worth County put on a clinic, running down the clock to 30 seconds despite frantic pressure from North Harrison. Finally, Kristin New hit a free throw to make it 52-50. With 17 seconds left, Payton Craig drove into the lane to try to tie it, but lost the ball as Jessi Badell provided perfect help and would not back down. Worth County ran down the clock to 7.4 seconds in the backcourt and Anna Gladstone took on Craig and drew her fifth foul, which set up Badell’s dagger putback.

The hope for Worth County against Mercer was that the more they hung around, the better chances they would get since Mercer has not played a lot of close games this year. But it didn’t matter; they fell behind 17-5 early but battled back to trail 17-9. But then all hell broke loose after that as the Cardinals scored 10 points in a one minute span to make it 27-9. It didn’t matter whether they got a hand in Nicole Kost’s, Bailey Owens’, or Lindsay Wyatt’s face; they all hit triples while guarded for the remainder of the game and Worth County couldn’t do anything offensively as they fell 59-23.
However, they got a lot of positive comments from other players, coaches, and fans of the other schools that participated in the tournament about their play. With Mercer graduating Owens, Kost, and Wyatt along with six of their 10 players, Worth County’s girls and North Harrison will be the favorites in next year’s district, with East Harrison and Pattonsburg nipping at their heels with most of their players back.

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