(Photo by Josh Mills, Staff)
DELTA -- Often times third place games get lost in the mix during tournament action. On Saturday afternoon, the complete opposite took place as the Oran Lady Eagles and the Meadow Heights Lady Panthers battled each other until the final buzzer, in search of the third place prize.
Oran started out hot and gained a five point lead, then gave everything they had for the second half, but in the end, Meadow Heights capitalized at the charity stripe when it counted, defeating the Lady Eagles 69-60 to claim third place in the Delta New Year's Tournament.
As the first quarter was drawing near an end, Oran clung to a two point lead, but a Lady Panther buzzer-beater evened the score at 17-all after one.
In the second quarter, both squads managed to keep up with each other on the offensive end of the floor, exchanging basket-for-basket time and time again in the frame. The Lady Eagles would gain a two or three point edge, then Meadow Heights would tear right back into the lead, taking their own lead once or twice before ending the second quarter on a 5-0 run to claim a 35-31 lead at the break behind yet another buzzer-beater, this time a 3-pointer from Hattie Cook.
The 3-pointers didn't stop raining down for the Lady Panthers. In the third quarter, Cook knocked down her second consecutive three, extending Meadow Heights' lead to seven. From that point, it was an uphill battle for Oran the rest of the game.
With 6:27 remaining in the third, Haley Glastetter pulled down a rebound and quickly scored to pull the Lady Eagles within three, but that would be as close as they would get until Shelby Unger hit a floater at the buzzer, leaving the score 49-47 in favor of the Lady Panthers.
The fourth quarter was an all-out struggle for both teams, as neither squad really gained much control, but the minimal lead that Meadow Heights carried into the final eight minutes eventually snowballed into a few more points. What was a five point game with time winding down, eventually ended in a nine point victory for the Lady Panthers after several trips to the free throw line.
Oran head coach Adam Friga said after the game that his team gave everything they had for 32 minutes.
"It was a good ballgame all the way around," said Friga. "I was really proud of our kids. They came out after we played poorly (against St. Vincent) and we showed signs of some guts today because we bounced back from a rough game and played a dang-good basketball game against a good team. I was very pleased with the effort -- the execution just came up a bit short today."
Friga said that a few bright spots in the contest were the bench play, which was utilized early in the contest after a few key fouls, and their post player Cheyanne King. King finished with 26 points in the game, 22 of which came in the first half before she was triple-teamed for most of the second half.
He also commented on the rest of the starters, including the ball-handling of Abbey Anderson and the said that two key bench players were Shelby Unger and Shelbie Seyer.
Anderson finished the game with five points while Unger added eight and Seyer five. Glastetter chipped in 12 points in the losing effort, eight of which came in the second half.
"The kids are playing better and at the right time," said Friga. "We've only played eight games. That's what we talk about -- that we want to get better as the season goes on, and that's what we're doing."
Meadow Heights' Erin Bollman led the way for her squad with 21 points while Cook trailed right behind with 20. Gina Cureton finished with 16 while Heather Dietiker added 10.
Oran's next task will be the Delta Lady Bobcats in their first contest of the Scott-Miss Tournament in Chaffee on Tuesday evening.
MEADOW HEIGHTS (69) -- Hattie Cook 20, Gina Cureton 16, Heather Dietiker 10, Jullian Mills 4, Erin Bollmann 21. FG 22, FT 22-29, F 14. (3-pointers -- Cook 4, Cureton 1. Fouled out -- none).
ORAN (60) -- Abbey Anderson 5, Cheyanne King 26, Taylor Irwin 4, Haley Glastetter 12, Shelby Unger 8, Shelbie Seyer 5. FG 25, FT 7-13, F 19. (3-pointers -- S Seyer 1. Fouled out -- none).
In the consolation game, the Chaffee Lady Devils fell to the Woodland Lady Cardinals by a final score of 59-33. Woodland jumped on top early and never looked back, leading 15-7 after one and 28-10 at halftime.
The third and fourth quarters were much of the same, with the Lady Cardinals outscoring the Lady Devils 31-22 in the half.
Woodland had nine players score in the consolation game with Taylor Steckman leading the way with 14. Ashley Acup added 10 and both Sarah Lincoln and Becky Brannon finished with 8 points apiece.
Chaffee was led by Taylor Kirchdoefer's 12 points while Anna Ayers added seven in the losing effort.
CHAFFEE (33) -- Randi Wiley 4, Adrienne Eichhorn 2, Taylor Kirchdoefer 12, Anna Ayers 7, Ellie Sigman 2, Hannah Bedwell 4, Stevie Schrum 2. FG 12, FT 8-17, F 15. (3-pointers -- Kirchdoefer 1. Fouled out -- none).
WOODLAND (59) -- Kaitlin McCormick 4, Trisha Davis 3, Taylor Steckman 14, Ashley Acup 10, Keighlyn Lincoln 2, Sarah Lincoln 8, Lindsay Shell 4, Kayla Acup 6, Becky Brannon 8. FG 22, FT 11-12, F 20. (3-pointers -- Davis 1, Steckman 1, Brannon 2. Fouled out -- none).