Warriors Wreck Leopards Perfect Season with 44-43 Win
West Branch 44, Louisville 43
Every time you heard the whistle blow at West Branch High School Saturday afternoon, you knew the following call was going to be a controversial one. It was only fitting that a whistle with 0.2 seconds remaining would decide the game. Andrea Wingett hit the second of two free throws to clinch a 44-43 win for the West Branch Lady Warriors (10-4, 8-2) and end the Louisville Lady Leopards (13-1, 8-1) perfect season. Louisville didn’t get the calls when they needed them most and missed 13 of 20 free throws in a sickening loss. Alyssa Jones led the Lady Leps with 14, while Brianna Libertore added 10 in the loss.
In the first quarter, West Branch jumped out to a 10-6 lead thanks to three-balls from Tia King and Brandi Snyder. After spotting Snyder another triple, the Lady Leps bounced back with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 13 all. Libertore dominated the paint and scored 6 of her 10 points in the second quarter to aid the Lady Leps comeback. She also had a game-high 12 rebounds. However, unlike the first meeting, West Branch continued to penetrate the paint to hang with the Leps. Louisville botched all six shots from the charity stride in the first half, but were saved by a Clara Lemmon buzzer beating shot that gave the Leps a 23-22 lead at the break.
The top NBC teams played even in the third quarter. Jones got half of her game-high 14 points in the period by hitting on mostly short jumpers in the lane. Snyder countered for West Branch with just as many points, including two daggers from beyond the arch. However, Louisville maintained their one-point edge heading in the final period.
The teams continued to battle in a hard fought fourth quarter. West Branch had two players foul out in the final quarter, including lead scorer Snyder who finished the night with 17 points. A host of controversial officiating calls ensued sending both teams fans and coaches into a frenzy.
With Snyder out and the Leopards clinging to a 41-40 lead, things looked good for Louisville. Jones, who was fouled by Snyder, hit the first free throw but missed the second. However, Louisville retained possession, before Wingett swatted Libertore’s shot attempt out of bounds. On the inbound play, Libertore got the ball and attempted a shot. In the scramble under the basket, her head jerked back and she tripped and fell, but their was no whistle blown. West Branch stormed down to the other end on a fast break and Rebekah Zets found Kelsey Loiselle wide open. Loiselle canned a three-pointer to give the Warriors a 43-42 lead.
Libertore was fouled on the next Leopards possession, but could not connect on either free throw. On the missed second attempt the ball appeared to be swatted out of bounds by West Branch’s Niki Carlton, but the ref signaled white ball. West Branch didn’t want it though as they turned it back over to Louisville. Later in the Leps next possession, Wingett stole an inbounds pass and passed it down the court. However, West Branch bricked the layup and Louisville was still alive. Libertore drew the needed foul on the other end, but clanked the first free throw. West Branch called a timeout to try to freeze her, but she hit home the second to tie the game at 43-43.
West Branch ran the ball down the court and King missed what would of been the game-winning layup. Wingett came down with the board and put up another shot that hit the bottom of the rim, but she was saved by a controversial whistle. With 0.2 left on the clock, Windgett went to the line for two shots. She bricked the first one much to the dismay of the West Branch fans. But, the second one went up and through. Louisville guard Mackenzie Storlie could only throw up one last full court heave before Louisville’s perfect season ended with a celebrating Warrior team at mid-court.
Overall, the battle between two of the top teams in the NBC was full of a colossal amount of mistakes. Short jumpers failed to find their intended destination, wide-open layups bounced out out, and their was an uncharacteristic amount of shots that hit the very bottom of the backboard. However, the biggest difference in the game was that the Lady Leps were an anemic 35% (7 of 20) from the free throw line, which included 6 missed freebies in final quarter alone.
The Lady Leps will look to bounce back when they host NBC preseason favorite Minerva Wednesday. The chance at a 20-0 season may be gone, but winning the Northeastern Buckeye Conference is still in their reach.
LEOPARDS: Jones 6 2-6 14, Libertore 4 2-8 10, Brown 2 0-0 4, Storlie 1 2-2 4, Givens 1 0-0 3, C. Lemmon 1 1-4 3, Risaliti 1 0-0 3, Bricker 1 0-0 2, TOTAL 17 7-20 43.
3PT (2): Givens (1), Risaliti (1)
TEAM FT: 7-20 35%
WARRIORS: Snyder 6 1-2 17, Zets 2 3-4 7, King 2 1-2 6, Loiselle 2 0-0 5, Carlton 1 2-2 4, Wingett 1 1-2 3, Griffith 1 0-2 2, TOTAL 15 8-14 44.
3PT (6): Snyder (4), King (1), Loiselle (1)
TEAM FT: 8-14 57%
NEXT GAME: The Leopards will host Minerva on Wednesday, January 26. JV will tip-off at 6:00, while Varsity will start at approximately 7:30.
West Branch 32, Louisville 29
In a game where offense came at a premium, the Warriors edged out the Leopards 32-29. West Branch missed three free throws in the final minute to keep the Leopards alive, but Louisville could not capitalize. Coley Tuel led all-scorers with 11 for the Warriors. Sarah Wyss led the Lady Leps with 7, while Jordan Monnot, Amber Minster, and Catelyn Radalia added 6 each.