GREENFIELD — It was a match-up of the top two teams in the Frontier Athletic Conference Saturday when the Miami Trace Lady Panthers visited McClain High School to take on the Lady Tigers.
Miami Trace entered the game undefeated in the conference, while McClain had suffered one loss thus far in conference play.
McClain could ill afford a second conference loss, while Miami Trace was looking to consolidate its place at the top of the FAC standings.
McClain yielded a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter, with the game going into overtime.
McClain won the overtime period, 5-4 to post a 41-40 victory.
As often seems to be the case when these rivals meet, the game came down to free throw shooting.
McClain outscored Miami Trace by 14 points at the free throw line. The Lady Tigers made 19 of 27 free throws for 70 percent. Miami Trace made 5 of 13 from the charity stripe for 38 percent.
McClain senior Brianna Weller was the game’s leading scorer with 16 points. She went 12 of 15 from the free throw line.
Senior Kyla Burchett had eight points and sophomore Payton Pryor scored seven.
Miami Trace senior Magarah Bloom led her team with 14 points. She hit three three-point field goals and recorded a double-double with 11 rebounds.
Miami Trace hit 15 of 42 field goal attempts for 36 percent. McClain made 10 of 34 shot attempts from the field for 29 percent.
“What a high school basketball game,” McClain coach Jarrod Haines said in his postgame remarks. “This is why you (coach). We gave everyone who was here a game to watch today. I’m super-proud of my kids for fighting down the stretch and pulling one out. Hats off to Miami Trace; we’re always going to get their best. It’s always going to be a great game. They played super-hard.”
“(Magarah Bloom) had 13 of their 15 (points) in the first half,” Haines said. “Some of those, she made great moves on. She works extremely hard, she gets offensive rebounds. She’s just a good player who plays with her heart,” Haines added. “I thought we made a little adjustment. We put (Emma) Stegbauer on her, slowed her down in the second half. It’s a lot easier (to play against a zone defense) when you are ahead. You can work the ball around and take advantage of what opens up and we did. We handled pressure extremely well and that’s something we haven’t done a really good job of.
“Bri Weller barrels down and gets to the basket and gets to the free throw line. She did an incredible job. Probably the biggest basket of the game was Josie Crabtree’s three there in overtime. (Jaelyn) Pitzer gave us great minutes with rebounding and defense. Evelyn Vanzant came in and guarded Bloom and we were able to take Emma off and give her a rest. It was a complete team effort, for sure.”
Miami Trace coach Ben Ackley said, “This is our rival and it’s been that way for years. They made a couple more plays than us in overtime. I told my group in the locker room that there would have been a time, six weeks ago, when we would have crumbled with a couple of the runs (McClain) put on us. We’re starting to find our identity a little bit. I couldn’t be more proud of their effort today.
The lead changed hands five times in the first quarter.
After eight minutes of play, Miami Trace held a 10-8 lead.
The teams exchanged the lead three more times in the second quarter, with McClain going in front by as many as six points. A 12-5 second quarter in favor of McClain gave the Lady Tigers a 20-15 halftime lead.
McClain twice led by as many as seven points in the third quarter. It was 29-22, McClain, after three.
Miami Trace kept battling and finally was able to tie the game, 32-32, on a free throw by Stewart with 1:12 remaining in regulation.
Burchett hit two free throws and Weller hit two throws to give McClain a 36-32 lead with 37.4 seconds to go.
Miami Trace sophomore Kaelin Pfeifer got the ball and took it coast-to-coast for a lay-up with 30.4 seconds left in regular time.
Coming out of a time out, Miami Trace had a steal, but its ensuing shot was no good. The ball went out of bounds, with possession remaining with Miami Trace. Jacobs hit the game-tying shot with 13.7 seconds to play.
After a McClain miss and a Miami Trace rebound, McClain fouled with 2.5 seconds left in regulation. It was a 1 and 1 opportunity for Miami Trace. However, the first free throw attempt was no good. The Lady Tigers got the rebound and called timeout.
A shot from around half-court was no good, sending the game into overtime.
Stewart scored for Miami Trace with 2:51 to play in overtime. The next shot was a three-point goal by Crabtree with 1:57 to play, giving McClain a 39-38 lead.
Miami Trace turned the ball over on its next possession and after a foul, McClain made 1 of 2 from the line.
Trailing by two points, Miami Trace missed its next shot attempt and had to foul again.
McClain again made 1 of 2 at the line with 47.3 seconds left in overtime.
Miami Trace missed its next shot, but Stewart scored to make it 41-40 with 20.9 seconds left.
After a Miami Trace timeout, McClain turned it over with 16.3 seconds on the scoreboard.
With 4.4 seconds left, the ball went out of bounds, possession remaining with Miami Trace. A final shot attempt was no good, giving McClain the 41-40 victory.
McClain is now 11-2 overall, 5-1 in the FAC. Miami Trace is 6-5 overall, 4-1 in the conference.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT 10 5 7 14 4 — 40
Mc 8 12 9 7 5 — 41
MIAMI TRACE — Kaelin Pfeifer 1-0-2; Jessee Stewart 0-0-0; Gracee Stewart 2 (1)-3-10; Magarah Bloom 2 (3)-1-14; Libby Aleshire 0-0-0; Gracey Ferguson 1-0-2; Hillery Jacobs 2 (1)-0-7; Emma Pitstick 0-0-0; Delaney Eakins 2-1-5. TOTALS — 10 (5)-5-40. Free throw shooting: 5 of 13 for 38 percent. Three-point field goals: Bloom, 3; G. Stewart, Jacobs. Field goal shooting: 15 of 42 for 36 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 5 of 16 for 31 percent. Rebounds: 36 (13 offensive). Assists: 4. Steals: 5. Turnovers: 18. Fouls: 20.
McCLAIN — Evelyn Vanzant 0-0-0; Bri Weller 2-12-16; Payton Pryor 3-1-7; Jaelyn Pitzer 0 (1)-0-3; Josie Crabtree 0 (1)-0-3; Kyla Burchett 1-6-8; Emma Stegbauer 2-0-4. TOTALS — 8 (2)-19-41. Free throw shooting: 19 of 27 for 70 percent. Three-point field goals: Pitzer, Crabtree. Field goal shooting: 10 of 34 for 29 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 2 of 12 for 17 percent. Offensive rebounds: 9. Turnovers: 11.
Chris Hoppes is the sports editor for the Record-Herald in Washington C.H.