It wasn’t until the buzzer that Pilot Grove Lady Tigers basketball coach Linda Scott could breath a sigh of relief Tuesday night in a CAC matchup against the New Franklin Lady Bulldogs.
Although the Lady Tigers had already beaten New Franklin on its home floor, the Lady Bulldogs gave Pilot Grove everything they wanted and more before bowing out by a score of 50-46.
Pilot Grove improved to 17-6 overall and 5-3 in the CAC while New Franklin dropped to 6-17 overall and 1-8 in league play.
“We are just not working together on either end of the court,” Scott said. “Our strong point all season has been really working together as a team, but our timing is off with each other. However we battled for a win tonight. Our bench was super on defense. We had 10 steals this game. Emily Schupp had a good game scoring but foul problems is keeping her on the bench too much. Abby Schupp hit two big free throws to put the game away for us. Grace Phillips is playing well and hit two key free throws also  in the last 30 seconds of the game. Grace is doing everything for us on both ends of the floor. We need practice to get everyone back on the same page defensively.”
The Lady Tigers just needed a win period after dropping their last two games against Glasgow and Cairo.
But this win wasn’t easy for Pilot Grove. Even though the Lady Tigers outscored New Franklin in three of the four quarters, they also led by as much as nine in the first half only to see the Lady Bulldogs rally back to take a four point lead after a basket by Campbell Cooper to make it 36-32 with 2:52 left in the third.
New Franklin’s first lead of the ballgame didn’t come until the 5:42 mark in the third quarter after a basket by Abby Maupin to make it 30-29.
But prior to the run by New Franklin in the third, the Lady Tigers had a chance to put the game away in the first half while leading at one point by a score of 16-7 after a three by Chloe Schlotzhauer with 6:32 left.
Pilot Grove also held a 12-7 advantage after one.
However records meant nothing in this game as New Franklin rally back to cut the lead to one at 24-23 after a three by Maupin with 55 seconds left in the half. Then, after Pilot Grove answered with a three point play by Natalie Rentel to make it 27-23, New Franklin came back to hit 1 of 2 free throws to closeout the half to cut the lead to 27-24.
The Lady Tigers also outscored New Franklin 13-12 in the third but not without a 9-0 run over the final two minutes and 34 seconds to lead 40-36.
Although the lead was four for Pilot Grove going into the final period, the Lady Bulldogs quickly erased that with a three by Maupin and a basket by Shelby Breshears to cut the lead to one at 42-41 with 5:39 left. Then, after  Pilot Grove pushed the lead back up to four at 46-42, New Franklin came back and hit 2 of 4 free throws to make it 46-44.
The Lady Bulldogs then caught a break when senior Emily Schupp fouled out of the game with 2:32 left. Unfortunately for New Franklin, they were unable to take advantage of the mismatches while going over two minutes without a score. But even then Pilot Grove couldn’t pull away while taking a 48-44 lead with 25 seconds left after two free throws by Phillips.
Breshears made it interesting with two foul shots to cut the lead to 48-46 with 14 seconds left. But that was as close as the Lady Bulldogs would get as Abby Schupp came back and buried two big free throws with 12 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
Emily Schupp led all scorers for Pilot Grove with 18 points along with six rebounds, two steals and two assists.
Grace Phillips finished the game with 10 points, three assists and one rebound while Melanie Wolfe added nine points and six rebounds, Abby Schupp five points, five steals, three rebounds and two assists, Chloe Schlotzhauer four points, five rebounds and two assists, Natalie Glenn three points, four rebounds and two steals, Natalie Rentel one point, five rebound and one assist and Reagan McFatrich with one rebound and one steal.
For New Franklin, Abby Maupin had 24 points, Shelby Breshears 11, Lauren Evans seven and Kristen Flick and Campbell Cooper each with two points.
New Franklin coach Morgan Vetter said this was a tough loss on the road. “I thought the girls played hard with only five at the end,” Vetter said. “I also saw some people step up offensively and defensively. I’m looking to finish the regular season on a good note with our last home game Thursday against Glasgow.”
Note: A total of 50 free throws were shot in this game, with Pilot Grove hitting 13 of 27 shots for 48 percent and New Franklin converting on 14 of 23 for 61 percent.