It took overtime to separate the Divine Savior Holy Angels and Franklin girls basketball teams in a WIAA regional final Saturday evening, and the host Dashers came away with the 49-46 victory that ended the Sabers season.
The 20-20 halftime score was indicative of things to come, and the game remained just as competitive immediately after the half. DSHA freshman guard Alyah Garcia lit up the scoreboard with no less than three consecutive threes that hit nothing but net.
“My teammates drive to the basket, trying to penetrate to get open shots for our teammates, and luckily, I was right there," Garcia said. "They just went in, and it’s amazing to know that I did something to help our team win tonight.”
Despite her efforts early in the half, Franklin’s Megan Lee was even more prolific on the other side, scoring 9 points in that same span of time and leading the Sabers to a 34-31 lead. The Dashers, however, and went on a 10 point run bolstered by free throws from Ovi Young and a three from Rachel Heinrich. Yet, for every scoring run in the game, the other side always seemed to strike back.
“When you manage ebb and flow, you’ve got to manage it through timeouts,” Franklin coach Tony Kathrens said, “and once I saw that start happening, I called a timeout and I told them not only were we going to catch up, we were going to win the game, and we almost did. It’s just a matter of managing their attention to detail. We were able to do that and come back.”
Lee finished out regulation time with 8 points, while the Dashers we able to hit just 1 of 5 free throws, missing the first bonus freebie on three occasions. Lee gave her team a brief 42-41 lead at the end of regulation on an old-fashioned 3-point play, but Ovi Young scored 1 of 2 free throws to tie the game at 42 and send it into overtime.
“I wasn’t flustered at all,” Garcia said of Franklin’s comeback. “I was just trying to stay mentally in the game, because I knew that we would come out with the victory, because I trust in my teammates.”
Much like the second half, DSHA opened a lead to start overtime on a basket from Young and a 3-pointer from Heinrich, only to see its lead dwindle back to two on a free throw from Lee and a two-pointer from Quinn Bachofen. Marina Rajkovic made it a 47-46 game for Franklin with a free throw, but Heinrich sank the last two free throws of the night to close out a close win for the Dashers.
“We obviously didn’t shoot too well on the free-throw line, and we gave them the opportunity to claw back," Dashers coach Jeff Worzella said. "You’ve got to give them the credit; they made tough basket after tough basket. I don’t think we had any defensive breakdowns; I just think they made plays to get back in the game. Lee was almost unstoppable. They fought back both in the second half, and we had another lead in the overtime where we were up 5 and they just kept battling back. We finally were able to make some free throws and close the game out.”
Said Kathrens, “They’ve got a veteran squad, I think that their point guard is very good. She had a couple good shots. I think we missed a couple of layups that usually we would make. They took away our shooter, Maddy Schell, and no one’s done that all year. No one has denied her, and once they denied her, we were pretty much one-dimensional with Megan Lee. We started three underclassmen this year. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and we were 16-8, so if it was supposed to be a rebuilding year, I think we reloaded, and I think we’re going to be real strong next year.”
DSHA will move on the play top-seeded and undefeated Rufus King on Thursday at Brookfield Central.
Garcia is optimistic, “We’re looking to work as a team, to come out with a victory. We’re trying to push ourselves to go far in the tournament.
“We’re a confident bunch,” Worzella added. “We’re going to go against King and give it our all. They’re a really good team, but we feel we’re pretty good, too, and we’ll see what happens.”