Tourney anguish in Gaylord
Maroon girls do everything but win in loss to Sparta
Thursday, March 06, 2014 6:00 PM
GAYLORD, Mich. - Four seconds and one point never hurt so much.
Sparta (14-10) pulled off another escape act to put a heartbreaking finish to the Menominee girls' season with a 35-34 win in the Class B, Region 16 championship game at Gaylord High School Thursday night.
The Maroons (15-8) led Sparta for all but 10 seconds before Daniegh Wilde dropped in a layup with 3.8 seconds left. Menominee held a 34-33 lead with 20 seconds left when the Spartans forced a turnover to set up Wilde's dramatic game-winner.
"It's very, very tough," coach Lucas Chouinard said of the sudden and harsh finish. "It just came down to a couple of plays at the end. The girls did everything they wanted to do. We had our players in the right spot but (Wilde) made a tough shot."
Maddy Anderla was bumped and fell to the floor as she drove in for a chance at a game-winning shot.
Chouinard felt that two fouls could have been whistled on the final possession.
"Amanda (Pedersen) was fouled when she was passing it to Maddy and then Maddy got bumped, but it's a judgment call," he explained. "The play was executed to perfection. We got the shot we wanted, it just didn't go in. It shouldn't have come down to one point. We made errors in execution early in the game."
Menominee sank almost 50 percent of its shots (17 of 35) but a 3-of-12 struggle at the line helped block the Maroons' path to the state quarterfinals.
Menominee made just one of its first 10 free throws before Anderla buried two free throws to give the Maroons a five-point lead with under two minutes remaining.
Lexi Heimbaugh fanned the Spartans' comeback flames with a 3-pointer to chop the Maroon lead to 32-30 with 1:14 left.
Anderla had the answer again with a layup but Wilde drilled in a do-or-die 3-pointer to pull the Spartans within 34-33 with 32 seconds remaining.
The Maroons turned the Spartans over four times in the opening five minutes and nudged out to a 5-2 lead. Wilde raced in for a layup at the buzzer to trim the lead to 5-4 heading into the second quarter.
The defensive scrum continued in the second quarter.
Lexi Christian's jumper gave Menominee a 9-5 lead, but Jessica Hoover lashed back with a laser from the 3-point arc to slice the margin back to a point.
Christian gave the Spartans a taste of their own 3-ball medicine by yanking the net with a 3-pointer.
After Sparta misfired from beyond the arc, Allia Stewart fed Pedersen inside for a layup to vault the Maroons to a 14-8 halftime lead.
It was the second straight game that the Spartans had shrugged off an eight-point first half to pull a victory out of the fire. Sparta trailed state-ranked and unbeaten Manistee 28-8 at halftime Tuesday.
Franchesa Buchanan, who poured in 22 points against Manistee Tuesday, was held scoreless in the first half.
"Amanda (Pedersen) did a tremendous job of preventing her from getting to spots where she could be successful," Chouinard said.
The Spartans quickly chipped the lead to 14-12 in the third quarter before Pedersen countered inside for the Maroons.
Pedersen swiped the ball and dished to Stewart for two as the Maroons stretched their lead 22-16 with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
The Spartans had a chance to take their first lead of the game, but misfired and Menominee took a precarious 22-21 lead into the final period.
Pedersen led the Maroons in points (13) and rebounds (6). Anderla finished with eight points and Amanda Simmons had four steals.
Wilde led Sparta with 12 points.
The loss marked the final Maroon game for Pedersen, Paige Owens, Allison Barley, Christian, Amber Woods, Stewart and Anderla.
"I can't say enough about our seniors," said Chouinard. "I've been with the seniors for three or four years and they will be missed. They definitely made their mark on the program. I couldn't ask for a better group of girls. Hopefully, he juniors will learn from this."
SPARTA (35) - Buchanan 10, Wilde 12, Hoover 2, Andrews 2, Heimbaugh 6, Humphries 2. Totals - FG: 15 FT: 1-3 F: 16
MENOMINEE (34) - Anderla 8, Christian 5, Owens 4, Stewart 4, Pedersen 13. Totals - FG: 17 FT: 3-12 F: 12
Sparta 4 4 13 14 - 35
Menominee 5 9 8 12 - 34