Lady Bulldogs will play Crane in semifinals Thursday at the Hearnes Center starting at 5 p.m.
This is getting to be old hat for the New Franklin Lady Bulldogs basketball team.
With a come from behind victory in the semifinal round of the district tournament the week before in Harrisburg, the Lady Bulldogs shook off yet another large deficit in the sectional round of the state playoffs against New Bloomfield for a 46-39 victory.
But this was different. This was the site of New Franklin’s last quarterfinal game in which the Lady Bulldogs won on a last-second shot against the Marceline Tigers in 2009.
Although New Franklin led by 10 at the break against Knox County Saturday at Moberly Area Community College, the Lady Eagles used two runs in the second half to tie the game at 51-all at the end of regular.
Meanwhile, in overtime, Knox County led 55-51 with two minutes left before a miraculous comeback by the Lady Eagles.
While junior Aislinn Himmelberg led New Franklin from the depths in the first half with 10 points, it was senior Aly Hundley in the overtime period with a three-point play to cut Knox County’s lead to one at 55-54.
Four free throws later, two by KC and two from New Franklin, junior Madi Lyons tied the game again at 58-58 with a lay-up with 34 seconds left.
What happened after that is anybodys guess as KC and New Franklin traded turnovers with 22.9 seconds left. Then, after the Lady Eagles turned the ball over underneath the basket, Hundley emerged with the ball and drove the length of the court with seconds ticking off the clock. With the bench yelling to shoot it, Hundley stopped just inside the free-throw line and hit a eight-foot jumper at the buzzer to give the Lady Bulldogs the victory 60-58.
The Lady Bulldogs, now 28-1 on the season, will advance to the Final Four this coming Thursday at the Hearnes Center in Columbia. New Franklin will face 29-1 Crane in the semifinal round starting at 5 p.m.
New Franklin girls basketball coach Chris McGowan said with Hundley taking the shot in the final seconds shows that she is not scared to lose.
Hundley had other thoughts on the Lady Bulldogs come from behind win against KC.
“That was our third overtime of the season and honestly to me overtime is more relaxing because you have more time to get what you need to get done so I was kind of glad for that,” Hundley said. “I am so excited. I am speechless right now. Honestly, I thought there was more time on the clock but then everybody on the bench was like shoot it so I said ok.”
It was also Hundley who led the scoring attack for New Franklin with 17 points along with six assists, five steals and two rebounds. Jasmyne Boggs, who was pivotal inside blocking shots and rebounding, finished the game with 16 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two assists while Himmelberg added 14 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists, Madi Lyons with 10 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals, Derian Dodson with three points and two rebounds, Kalani Pihana with two rebounds and one steal and Jasmine Himmelberg with one steal.
For KC, Lauren Dale had 15 and Karissa Hamlin 13.
With six ties in both regulation and overtime, four of those came in the first-eight minutes of the ballgame as each team tried to establish some type of rhythm offensively. Unfortunately for New Franklin, KC had just a little more offense early on while reeling off six straight during a one minute stretch to go up 10-6 with 2:53 left.
The Lady Bulldogs, meanwhile, cut the lead to three (16-13) at the end of the period on a basket by Hundley.
While hitting on 6 of 12 shots in the opening period, New Franklin also held its own on the board against KC with six rebounds each. The only difference other than the three-point deficit was turnovers. New Franklin had five while KC finished the quarter with four.
However, none of that mattered in the second quarter as New Franklin began to find the basket with a little more regularity. Himmelberg also went ballistic in the period with eight of her 14 points.
With a 6-0 run to start the quarter, the Lady Bulldogs also tacked on 10 straight during a two-minute stretch to extend the lead to 33-20 with 11 seconds left. However, with two ticks left on the clock, senior Taylor Lincoln buried a three to make it a 10-point game (33-23) at the half.
McGowan said Himmelberg provided the Lady Bulldogs they needed in the first half.
“Aislinn will always provide energy, sometimes too much energy but tonight we needed that,” McGowan said. “Defensively she is really good and she is always wanting to run the floor and when we kick it up to her she finished really well. I think she gets overlooked because of Madi and our seniors but she is a really good basketball player.”
Himmelberg said she was really motivated because she wanted to win.
“My adrenaline was going and I just couldn’t stop,” Himmelberg said.
Although New Franklin led by 10 at the break, KC had one more three in the first half, one coming in the first quarter and one in the second. The Lady Bulldogs, meanwhile, hit their only three of the half at the 1:22 mark in the second quarter on a shot by Hundley to make it 29-20.
The third quarter was a little cleaner with both teams combining for a total of four turnovers. But while the Lady Bulldogs suddenly went cold from the field, hitting only 4 of 13 shots, KC began to find its mark while reeling off eight straight to cut the lead to six at 39-33 with 1:34 left.
The Lady Eagles also outscored New Franklin 13-10 in the third quarter to make it a seven-point ballgame at 43-36.
The free-throw line also proved to be KC’s friend in the final period as the Lady Eagles hit on 8 of 10 shots, five of which came during a 7-0 run to lead New Franklin 45-44 with 4:10 left.
McGowan said it didn’t seem like KC missed a lot of free throws in the fourth quarter.
“Going into the game I thought it was sort of an even matchup really,” McGowan said. “We just happen to have the ball on the last possession.”
Yes and no. Actually the Lady Eagles had the ball last in regulation but turned it over in the final seconds. Both teams also had opportunities to add to their lead.
New Franklin led 51-50 with 1:50 remaining after a putback by Boggs. Then, after senior Sarah Dooley made 1 of 2 shots for KC to tie the game at 51-all, New Franklin and KC both turned it over with a chance to take the lead in the final 30 seconds.
Hundley said she doesn’t know what changed from the first half to the second half. “We were getting steals in the first half and think in the second half we kind of stopped doing that,” Hundley said.
McGowan said he definitely liked the outcome of the first half way better than the second.
“The second half I thought we turned it over a few times too many and I think they probably shot it better the second half,” McGowan said.
Knox County also held a 15-7 advantage in the final period and looked to be well on its way in overtime with a four-point lead at 55-51 after a free throw by freshman Madison McCabe and a three by junior Lauren Dale with two minutes left.
Hundley then came up big for New Franklin with a three-point play to cut the lead to 55-54. Then, after the Lady Bulldogs cut the lead to 57-56 after two free throws by Boggs, KC answered with one from the charity stripe to go up 58-56 with 43 seconds left.
New Franklin would score the final four points, however, after Lyons scored on a lay-up and Hundley buried a shot at the buzzer for the victory.
Hundley said it’s exciting going to the Final Four. “Our whole school is excited and our community is excited,” Hundley said. “I think now it’s going to calm down because we know we have two games left.”
Himmelberg said it’s going to be amazing playing on the Mizzou Arena floor.
“We are guaranteed to play two more games so I am going to take advantage of it because I love this team and playing with them is just really great,” Himmelberg said. “All we can do is go out and work hard and give it our best shot.”