By Zach James
Herald Staff Report
The Prince of Peace Irish had a chance to win the game at the buzzer, but a scoreless first quarter handed the Irish their 10th loss of the season.
Easton Valley’s win came on a basket by Lizzie Meier with less than 2 seconds left to give the River Hawks their eventual 37-36 win.
However, Irish coach Scott Maddaison didn’t point to that play as to why Prince of Peace found itself again on the wrong side of a close outcome.
“We took the entire first quarter off offensively,” he said. “We found ourselves still in the game, even coming down to the last possession, and I’ve got to give the girls credit for playing so hard.”
The Irish trailed 8-0 after the first quarter but found an offensive spark in the second quarter, scoring 14 points, six from Lauren Pittman and four from Jackie Kokjohn. Still, the Irish trailed at the half 20-14.
“We were really stagnant in the first half,” Maddaison said. “We were standing around too much against their zone, and didn’t create many opportunities to score. I wasn’t worried about being down six at the half, because I knew the girls could fight back.”
Evidently, the Irish girls weren’t too worried, either, coming out of the locker room.
The closest Prince of Peace got to the River Hawks in the third quarter was seven points. Easton Valley’s Lexi Theisen opened up the half with a quick 3-pointer, then a basket from Hannah Bormann.
Prince of Peace scored 10 in the third quarter but still found itself trailing 31-24.
In the fourth quarter, it seemed as if the River Hawks had business taken care of, up 35-28 with two minutes remaining. However, the River Hawks had some inexperience on the floor, and most times, that spells trouble.
“We had some youngsters we had down the stretch, and they missed free throws and turned the ball over way too many times there, but they hung in there and remained resilient,” Easton Valley coach Kayla Tebbe said. “It was a tough environment to play in with the crowd and homecoming, but we toughed it out.”
The River Hawks went 0-for-5 on free throws in the final frame, and in that last two minutes, Easton Valley turned the ball over four times, giving Prince of Peace multiple chances to squeak out a home win.
“Everything was going crazy fast,” said Pittman, who also received the honor of homecoming queen on Friday. “We knew we had a chance and we just told ourselves to cut turnovers out and play like we’re taught to do, we would have a chance.”
And they did.
Karli Atkinson hit a shot while being fouled inside the paint with around 10 seconds remaining. She hit the free throw.
Maddasion explained how that play was supposed to turn out as he drew it up in a timeout before that play.
“We set up two looks,” Maddasion explained, “the first one was to Karli, and she was open, got a good look and gave us our first lead.”
It was 36-35 in favor of the Irish before Meier ruined the party with her shot. Meier ended up with 12 points.
“If we had come out with that much focus and intensity earlier, we would have won,” Pittman said.
Pittman led the Irish with nine points.
EASTON VALLEY 37, PRINCE OF PEACE 36
EASTON VALLEY (7-8) — Mallory Kilburg 0 0-0 0, Lexi Theisen 3 0-0 7, Brooke Wagner 0 0-0 0, Gabby Vasconcelos 3 0-0 7, Brooke Smithson 3 1-5 7, Abby Smithson 0 0-0 0, Lizzie Meier 5 2-3 12, Hannah Bormann 2 0-1 4, Marta Grant 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 3-11 37.
PRINCE OF PEACE (7-10) — Lauren Pittman 2 4-4 9, Andrea Aquilani 1 0-0 3, Krista Atkinson 1 0-0 2, Jackie Kokjohn 2 2-4 7, Hunter Chapman 2 0-0 4, Karli Atkinson 1 3-6 5, Becca Divarco 1 0-0 3, Sydney Laufenberg 0 1-3 1, Halee Vicks 1 0-0 2. Totals 11 10-24 36.
Easton Valley 8 12 11 6 — 37
Prince of Peace 0 14 12 10 — 36
3-point goals — Easton Valley 2 (Theisen, Vasconcelos); Prince of Peace 4 (Pittman, Aquilani, Kokjohn, Divarco). Total fouls — Easton Valley 18, Prince of Peace 15. Fouled out — Vasconcelos.