GAYLORD, Mich. - The Menominee girls shot the tires out of a speeding downstate Cadillac and are rolling into the Class B regional finals.
Maddy Anderla sank five free throws in overtime and junior Amanda Simmons turned in a career-best effort to help lift the Maroons to a heart-racing 54-52 victory in Gaylord.
Menominee held a 10-point lead before Cadillac put on a furious charge to force overtime.
"I'm just getting off the defibrillator," exclaimed coach Lucas Chouinard. "What an intense game. The girls are super-excited. They faced a lot adversity but they did a good job of battling through it."
Anderla sank a free throw and a two-pointer and Simmons followed up an Allia Stewart steal with an inside shot to give the Maroons a 49-44 lead early in the overtime.
Stewart swished two FTs to stretch the margin to 51-45 before Abbey Fuller hit the Vikings' first field goal of the overtime to chip the lead to 51-47.
Anderla pushed the lead back to six with two free throws with 53 seconds left and Stewart and Anderla popped in free throws to seal the hard-fought win.
The Maroons held a 41-31 lead early in the fourth quarter before the Vikings came roaring back.
Sydney Barcey launched in a 3-pointer and Fuller hit two free throws to slash the margin to 42-39 points with under two minutes remaining.
The Maroons were whistled for traveling with 40 seconds left and Fuller knocked down a jumper. Anderla sank two clutch free throws but Fuller fired back with a 3-ball to even the score at 44 with 4.9 seconds left.
Menominee turned it over with 1.7 seconds left and Cadillac's desperation shot at the buzzer was off the mark.
"We didn't defend the 3-ball very well and we didn't do a good job of rebounding in the fourth quarter," Chouinard said. "They had seven offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, including four on one possession."
Simmons led the Maroons with 17 points and she added nine rebounds, five blocks and three steals to a sensational semifinal showing.
"I can't say enough good things about Amanda," Chouinard said. "She stepped up on both ends of the floor and we definitely needed that tonight.
"She made a lot of baskets in transition, which was huge." Anderla sank 7 of her 10 shots from the line and finished with 11 points.
"Down the stretch we always want to get the ball in the hands of our two best free throw shooters - Maddy and Allia," said Chouinard. "Maddy has been working hard on her free throws and it showed."
It was a team effort that lifted the Maroons one game away from the state quarterfinals.
The Vikings double-teamed Amanda Pedersen but she dished off five assists and had four rebounds. Stewart and Christian each had two steals and Stewart added four rebounds.
Menominee sank 20 of 49 shots and 13 of 21 free throws.
"We were able to get looks down low, but we missed a lot of inside shots," Chouinard explained. "At the same time, we executed very well. We just have to finish."
Fuller and Darby McLaurin each had 15 points for The Vikings (17-6).
Alyssa Fisher jacked in an NBA-range 3-pointer at the buzzer to jack the Vikings to a 14-10 lead after the first quarter.
Amber Woods dialed in a 3-pointer early in the second quarter and Simmons worked the inside for two to lift the Maroons to a 15-14 lead.
After the Maroons forced another turnover, SImmons drilled in a shot from the corner to pad the margin to 25-18. Cadillac hit two free throws with 2 seconds left to chip the margin to five at halftime.
The Vikings surged to a 26-25 lead with a 6-0 run in the first two minutes of the third quarter, but Menominee roared back with an 8-0 run.
Lexi Christian zapped in a perimeter shot to reclaim the lead for Menominee and Pedersen's put-back gave the Maroons a 29-26 lead.
After a Vikings' turnover, Simmons sailed in for a basket and Woods connected again to hike the lead 33-26.
Cadillac played beat the clock again as McLaurin finished off a fast-break to slice the margin to 35-31 entering the fourth quarter.
The Maroons (15-7) will play Sparta (13-10) for the regional title Thursday. The Spartans wiped out a 28-8 haltime deficit to hand Manistee (22-1) its first loss, 52-48 in overtime.
The regional champion advances to the state quarterfinals at Bay City Western Tuesday at 6 p.m.
CADILLAC (52) - Fuller 15, Fisher 3, Barcey 6, Erway 6, McLaurin 15, Baker 7. FG: 17 FT: 10-17 F: 21
MENOMINEE (54) - Simmons 17, Pedersen 5, Stewart 6, Woods 7, Anderla 11, Owens 2, Christian 6. Totals - FG: 20 FT: 13-21 F: 19
Cadillac 14 6 11 13 8 - 52
Menominee 10 15 10 9 10 - 54