BY BRIAN KESSLER
The girls basketball team fell to Piper High School in the district championship game on Feb. 3, by a score of 57-49 in overtime. The Lightning led by as many as 10 points, but the Bengals completed a second half comeback, highlighted by a last second tip-in that sent the game into overtime.
“We could have prepared better for the defense Piper played on us,” junior guard Rachel McCree said. “We should have also fixed the mistakes we made deep into the game.”
The Lightning held a lead for the first three quarters Heading into the fourth, they were leading 37-30, after Piper hit a 3-point shot to end the quarter.
“In the first half, the pace was more up-tempo, which helped us from an offensive standpoint, knocking down shots and containing Amaya Scott of Piper,” Head Coach Oliver Berens said. “In the second half, the pace slowed down, thus, our scoring decreased, and our activity was not as high.”
Piper opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 37-37. The Lightning reclaimed the lead, after two free throws made by freshman guard Sophia Jones.
“In the fourth quarter, they capitalized off a ton of rebounds,” Coach Berens said. “They scored a total of 19 points compared to our 12 points.”
From that point on, each team spent the rest of the fourth quarter responding to each basket with another basket on the opposite end. The last Lightning possession included a mid-range floater by junior forward Glory Jones, which put the Lightning up 49-47 with 12 seconds remaining.
“At the end of regulation, the score was extremely close,” freshman point guard Bella LaChance said. “I was hoping that we could hold on to the lead for the final 12 seconds.”
The last offensive possession belonged to Piper. The Lightning’s defense forced Piper’s shot to be a contested one, which rimmed out, but Piper had enough time to grab the rebound and put up a buzzer-beating tip-in to force overtime.
“After the buzzer-beater, Piper took control of the momentum,” McCree said. “They used it to their advantage.”
In overtime, Piper controlled the game; the Bengals scored a total of eight points and held the Lightning scoreless throughout every second of overtime. The game ended with a final score of 57-49 and a Piper victory.
“After the game the team and I were shocked and sad because we knew we had the game and that we should have won,” McCree said.
According to Coach Berens, the Lightning is hoping to overcome their loss with a deep regional playoff run to obtain the experience of winning a regional matchup.
“As much as it hurts to lose the district championship this season, we are still very excited and motivated to have the opportunity to play in the regional playoffs”, Berens said.
The team returns to the court Feb. 9 to face Douglas High School in the regional quarterfinals.