Both teams struggled dribbling toward the basket and finishing shots in the paint thanks to hard-nosed defenses.
They still had their chances despite all the turnovers and missed shots near the rim. But the Bishop Brossart Mustangs (21-11) made a few more plays to knock off the Scott Eagles (14-15), 43-41 in overtime to win their third consecutive girls 37th District Tournament championship at Campbell County Middle School on Wednesday.
“They’re tough kids. We knew there would be no easy lay-ups,” said Steve Brown, Brossart head coach. “We knew it was going to be a very physical game. We knew it would come down the last seconds. I coached these (Scott) kids the last three years so I know what kind of competitors they are. I knew they would give us all that they had. This is a difficult district. These kids are grinders. That’s all they know how to do.”
Brossart took the lead for good with 1:48 left in the overtime session when senior forward Molly Kramer took it in the right block, spun up, drew the foul and finished for the three-point play to put the Mustangs up 40-38. Scott had the opportunity to tie the game with two free throws at the other end, but missed both free throws.
“Brossart defended well just like the other night against Campbell (County),” said Eric Pouncy, Scott head coach. “We said we just have to be physical with her and make her uncomfortable because if she gets the ball and is going full steam to the right or left block, it’s going in and will be an and-one most likely. She just uses her body so well and she’s very smart when she’s going to the basket.”
With 53 seconds left, Brossart missed the front end of the one-and-one. At the other end, Scott missed a close shot and the ball went out of bounds to Brossart. Senior guard Bella Rowe made two free throws to put the Mustangs up 42-38 with 12 seconds left.
But Scott had a chance to win it at the end. Senior guard Presley Grant made a three from the right wing with seven seconds left and the Eagles quickly fouled. Brossart sophomore guard Zoee Meyers made a free throw with four seconds left to make the final score.
“We had to lock up on defense and make sure we didn’t foul,” Meyers said. “We also had to watch a couple of their shooters making sure they weren’t wide-open for the shots. We just kept working. When we were in the bad grooves, we just kept working harder in practice and we came together as a team.”
Scott called a timeout. The Eagles had to go the length of the floor. Grant had a contested shot from the left corner that did not go in as the final horn sounded.
Meyers started the overtime with a steal and score to put the Mustangs up 37-35. But Scott senior guard Autumn Ponder answered with a three from the right wing with 2:35 left to give the Eagles a 38-37 lead.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Kramer finished with 16 points. Rowe made both Brossart three-pointers on her way to 12 points and senior guard Jill Planeaux finished with 10. Planeaux and senior guard Olivia Lloyd made the all-tournament team. Lloyd had to leave the game just 32 seconds into the second half with an injury.
“It’s been a war. It’s senior year so it’s the last go-around you get,” Kramer said. “Especially Monday against (Campbell) County, every time I got the ball, I was going to try to finish strong. That didn’t change (Wednesday). We didn’t play the way we wanted to. But at some point, I kind of just knew I’d have to put the team on my back, put us up and that would get us the momentum to go forward.”
Scott saw eight different players score. Grant made two triples on her way to 10 points.
Pouncy agreed the Scott posts in seniors Kayla Overman, Kayla Peterson and guard Kaia Peterson did not get enough touches. Overman scored nine and Kaia Peterson had eight points. The Peterson sisters made the all-tournament team.
“I was trying to save my timeouts for the end because the game was so close,” Pouncy said. “I was trying to yell at them to get a look in the post. But Brossart did a good job of pressuring out there on us. It’s something we’ve worked on because Ava gets pressured a lot. But we’re starting to adjust better.”
Only four Mustangs may have scored, but the other Brossart players had big roles in the win. Senior forward Cora Bertsch came in and gave the Mustangs nice minutes defensively in the post.
“(Overman and Kayla Peterson) are all great players,” Bertch said. “It was a great win. But I thought Scott played well too. It’s just the little things that add up throughout the whole game. I’m just glad we could pull it off.”
Free throws made the huge difference in this game. Both teams had 16 with Brossart making 11 and Scott making just seven.
The Eagles came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. Kayla Peterson hit a jumper and Overman had two offensive putbacks to give Scott an early 6-0 lead. Grant made a jumper from the right wing before picking up two fouls and Pouncy said she told him she could stay out the rest of the half to avoid more foul trouble.
Scott finished the quarter with a 5-0 run to go up 15-7 after the first quarter. Kaia Peterson hit a lay-up and senior guard Amberly Turner made a three from the right wing.
Brossart fought back and trimmed it to 19-16 at halftime. Kayla Peterson scored with 4:15 left in the half to put Scott up 19-11. But Rowe made a three and Kramer hit a lay-up on the left side to make the halftime score. The Mustangs missed the opportunity to potentially take the lead in the final minute and a half missing two front ends of one-and-ones.
But the Mustangs did take their first lead in the first minute of the second half. Kramer tied the game with an old-fashioned three-point play and Meyers had a steal and score to put the Mustangs up 21-19. After Grant made two free throws to tie it at 21, Kramer made a jumper.
Kaia Peterson made a three-point play then hit another free throw to put Scott up 25-23. After Rowe made a three, Scott senior guard Madelyn Wilson hit a jumper in the center to give the Eagles a 27-26 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter also went back and forth. Kramer scored with 4:18 left to put Brossart up 31-28. But Overman hit a jumper then made a free throw to tie the game at 31 with 3:07 left.
“I feel like our team did go until the end. We played the full 36 minutes,” Overman said. “It just didn’t work out in our favor. But I’m proud of my team. We hustled through it. We talked as a family. We’ll get the next one in regionals. Watch out for Scott because we’re coming fire blazing.”
Rowe gave the Mustangs a 33-31 lead with 1:40 left hitting a jumper from the right side. But Grant made a three from the right wing with 1:10 left to put Scott up 34-33. Then after a Mustangs turnover and foul, Coleman made one of two free throws to give the Eagles a 35-33 lead.
At the other end, Rowe made two free throws to tie the game at 35. Scott called a timeout with 14 seconds left but traveled after inbounding the ball. The Mustangs had the chance to win it with a shot down low in the final seconds of regulation, but it did not go in.
“The hustle plays are the difference in these games,” Brown said. “We were able to get to some balls late that kept us in the ballgame. We have smart kids that play hard and really don’t care who scores as long as we win.”
Both teams advance to the 10th Region Tournament next week at Mason County. Only one other district in the region played Wednesday when George Rogers Clark defeated Montgomery County, 59-36 to win the 40th District championship. The 38th District championship between Pendleton County and Nicholas County and the 39th District championship between Bracken County and St. Patrick take place Thursday.