Erie Regional: E-P 55, Princeton 51 (OT)
PROPHETSTOWN — For 28 and a half minutes, the Princeton Tigresses were in upset mode, leading the heavily favored TRAC East Conference champion Erie-Prophetstown by 13 points.
Games are 32 minutes long, however, and the Lady Panthers made a fast and furious comeback, scoring 10 straight points before tying the game on a 3-pointer by sophomore Emily Camper with two seconds left.
With new life, E-P (16-13) outscored PHS 10-6 in overtime to move on for another day in the postseason.
“It’s survive and advance at this point. It doesn’t have to be pretty, and that was as ugly as we’ve played all season, and kudos to Princeton to make us play ugly,” E-P coach Julie Schroeder-Ranz said.
Princeton coach Tiffany Gonigam said she couldn’t have asked for any more from her team, which bows out at 4-22.
“This time of the year, it’s a dream for every team to play your best that you can. Tonight we did that,” she said. “The way the kids played tonight, it makes it so hard for the season to be over. They played with so much passion.
“We talked before the game, win or lose, how do you want go out playing? And how do you want to remember this season? What do you want that feeling to be? And I think they absolutely showed, being the first ones to get the lead and hanging on to it. They played with so much passion and so much effort and enthusiasm. Our bench was excited and in the game and they were all playing together. That’s what they talked about after the game, playing together.”
Sophomore Taylor Quiram, who scored 10 points to carry the Tigresses to a 19-14 halftime lead, got the hot hand again early in the fourth quarter. She scored seven straight points, including a 3-pointer to extend PHS’ lead to 38-27. She finished with a team-high 20 points.
A basket by freshman McKenzie Hecht gave the Tigresses a seemingly safe lead of 40-27 with just 3 1/2 minutes left to play.
Then the Panthers, not wanting to see their season end on its home court, came to life. They scored six straight points from the charity stripe before baskets by Baylee Anderson and Jenna Saad cut the Tigresses’ lead to 40-37.
Kenzie Coleman hit two free throws for PHS at the minute mark, which Olivia-Hope Toppert matched for E-P to make it 42-39 with 0:54 to play.
Senior Kelly VanDenBussche, playing in her final game for PHS, hit a free throw to extend PHS’ lead 43-39 with 24.8 left. The Tigresses lost another free throw attempt on a lane violation, and missed four free throws in the final minute and a half.
Camper hit a deep shot with 11.4 remaining, her foot possibly on the line, but after discussion by the officials, went down as a 3-pointer to bring E-P within one.
Coleman knocked down two free throws at 10.1 left to put the Tigresses back up by three at 45-42.
The Lady Panthers inbounded to Camper, who quickly made her way up court, spotting up behind the 3-point arc and letting a game-tying trey swish through the net. (Visit Twitter @bcrportsed for video of the shot.)
“We’ve never come back from a game like that, especially hitting all those crazy shots at the end,” Camper said.
The Panthers also made 9 of 9 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“We nearly beat them in every category, except free throws,” Gonigam said.
A 3-point play by Camper (20 points) to open overtime gave the Panthers a lead they never gave up.
“Lucky Camper was phenomenal in the second half and got us where we needed to,” Schroeder-Ranz said.
Gonigam knew the Tigresses needed to win the game in regulation, because
“all of a sudden you’re back to 0-0 and you got to go. When they scored first, I was a bit concerned.”
• Notes: E-P lost senior standout Skylar Steimie to a knee injury in the second quarter and she did not return. The Panthers will face No. 3 seed Sherrard in Wednesday’s second semifinal following No. 2 Bureau Valley vs. Fulton at 6 p.m. Fulton beat Savanna West Carroll 36-27 in Monday’s opener.
Erie Regional (2A)
Monday: #8 Fulton 36, #10 West Carroll 27
#6 Erie-Prophetstown 55, #11 Princeton 51
Wednesday: Game 3 - #2 Bureau Valley vs. #8 Fulton, 6 p.m. Game 4 – #3 Sherrard vs. #6 Erie-Prophetstown, 7:30 p.m.
Friday: Championship - winners 3-4, 7 p.m.
• Winner advances to Oregon Sectional vs. Winnebago Regional winner, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 11.