|Bridgeport forces overtime, ends Lady Plainsmen’s state tournament run|
By Pastor Vince Carrig
Bridgeport knocked the District
6 champions’ crown off the Lady Plainsmen’s head and took it for themselves with a 49-45 overtime win Friday night in Sidney.
Sophomore center Ashley Stevens took control of the Lady Bulldogs’ fate with seven points in the 4:00 of overtime, banging down five of six free throws and a layup to give the team uniformed in purple and gold a berth in the NSAA’s C2 tournament in Lincoln.
Bridgeport overcame trailing by five points at the beginning of the fourth quarter and by as many as nine points with 10:00 left in regulation.
Stevens also blocked a critical shot that would have given Perkins County a one-point lead with 54 seconds left in overtime.
Perkins County took two shots at ending the game in the last 10 seconds of regulation to punch their ticket to Lincoln for a fifth-consecutive trip, but neither would fall.
Lady Plainsmen forward Jenni Sis led all scorers with 17 points, filling the net with short-range jumpers, four free throws in five chances, and a couple of unguarded layups.
Sis connected on a wide-open shot off one of Brooke Poppe’s three fantastic passes in the game and gave Perkins County a 39-38 lead with 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Lady Bulldogs’ senior point guard Simonne Spurgeon, however, sunk a free throw to knot the score at 39-39 and force overtime.
In a 20-12 surge over the last 12:00 of play, Bridgeport reserve guard Brittany Hutson’s three pointer gave the Lady Bulldogs a huge momentum jolt, as it depleted Perkins County’s lead to just one point at 35-34. Huston scored only those three points and Bridgeport did not hit a three pointer before or after that shot.
Stevens (14 points) then backed into the left block and glanced one off the glass to give the Lady Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 36-35.
Spurgeon’s shooting meant 12 points for Bridgeport; she cruised the lane with a kick-out pass to give her team its last lead in overtime.
Mackenzie Hite exploited open space in the lane for three layups for the Perkins County team that matched or outscored Bridgeport in each of the first three quarters and ducked in for halftime with a 21-16 lead.
Hite and Poppe both splashed in three pointers; Hite’s hit the front rim first but dropped to stake the Lady Plainsmen to a comfortable 33-24 lead.
Bridgeport benefitted from two second half line drives that found their way into nylon twine: freshman forward Sydney Faessler did it from 10 feet away and starting forward Tessa Harding sent one on an eight-foot rope.
Referees handed out fouls like chickens lay eggs, and the calls impacted the game. Having to avoid illegal contact for extra time proved difficult for Hite and Sis, two Perkins County seniors whose high school basketball careers ended as they watched the last seconds from the bench.
Bridgeport catalyst Manda Steer walked the line with four fouls, as did driving guard Spurgeon. Steer banged home three shots from right underneath and motivated the Lady Bulldogs’ comeback by scoring six of her 10 points in the third quarter.
Perkins County’s Tanya Metcalf picked up two quick fouls early in the game, but stabilized well enough to watch Stevens and baton down three jumpers and a layup for eight points.
The loss ended a successful, 14-9 season for the Lady Plainsmen. “I would like to say that the coaches were extremely proud of this group of young ladies. They worked hard every night and they were great to be around on a day to day basis,” Head Coach Chris Mestl said of his Perkins County team. “They are a wonderful example of a positive role model in today's world!”
The 14-8 Lady Bulldogs, who have battled plenty of adversity in losing senior starters Charlee Wallesen and Courtney Laux to injury, drew 22-2 West Point Central Catholic in the state tournament’s first round tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m.
Bridgeport Lady Bulldogs 6 10 11 12 10 49
Perkins County Plainsmen 9 12 12 6 6 45