A touch of “been there, done that” and a little late heroics by guard Taylor Hanson proved to be the difference as Belle Fourche rebounded from an eight-point deficit in the final minute tying the game in the final second and then prevailing in double overtime to defeat Madison 64-60 on Friday’s last day of the Cavalier Christmas Classic at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
“Two years ago we were in a game like that and the kids stayed positive and came back from seven down with a minute to go and won in overtime,” Belle Fourche coach Bill Burr said. “And most of these kids (the Broncs have eight seniors on the roster) were playing back then, and when we took the timeout I pointed out they had been here before and the kids went out there and kept playing hard.”
Played hard they did, and well, too. Trailing 53-45 with 50 seconds remaining, Mandee Williamson drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to ignite the rally and point guard Taylor Hanson knocked down two free throws off a steal seconds later to cut the deficit to 53-50.
And with .8 second remaining, Hanson found the ball in her hands following a kick-out pass from Williamson, and drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing knotting the score at 53-all and sending the game to overtime.
“The play was actually for Mandee, but she wasn’t open and Shayla Howell screened my girl and got me open,” Hanson said. “I don’t even know what was going through my mind. I just tried to shoot it like I would any other shot, and it went in.”
Both teams struggled offensively in the first OT, swapping a single bucket before moving to a second four-minute period.
Again Hanson answered the call, driving the lane on the Broncs first possession and converting the layup while drawing a foul. A converted charity toss completed the old-fashioned three-point play putting Belle up 58-55.
Steals by Rylee Young and Raymie Keegan led to follow-up fouls and big free throws down the stretch kept Belle Fourche undefeated at 7-0 heading into the new year.
“Taylor was special tonight. She drove the lane and got fouled and knocked that down which was big,” Coach Burr said. “And I give credit to all the kids for their free throw shooting. We were 20of-22 from the free-throw line and that was huge. In our first game of the season we shot 46 percent, but the girls have worked hard to get better and that showed up big for us tonight."
That a near perfect performance at the line capped off the victory came as a very pleasant surprise said senior Raymie Keegan who pulled down a couple of critical boards and a crucial steal in addition to draining two free throws with 30 second left to give the Broncs a comfortable 62-56 advantage.
“I can’t believe that we made some of those shots when we absolutely had to, but I think we had in our heads that we needed to win and that we could do it and kept playing hard,” Keegan said. “We are a senior team and this is our last year, and if we do what we are capable of we can do some big things.”
Hanson led the Belle Fourche attack with 21 points. Williamson added 11, Howell chipped in with nine and Keegan contributed eight.
The climactic Belle Fourche comeback offset a spirited Madison (2-5) comeback as well. Keyed by a 26-point effort by guard Jessi Giles, the Bulldogs rallied from a 26-13 second period deficit to grab the lead midway through the fourth quarter before faltering down the stretch.
An energetic Bronc defense factored significantly in Madison’s inability to put points on the board in the game’s concluding minutes as Giles was held to three points in the eight minutes of overtime, two of which came on a meaningless last second layup.
“She is an outstanding player and we tried to keep track of her but she got loose a couple times and made some tough shots,” Burr said. “But I thought in overtime we did a much better job rotating between Taylor and Raymie and Rylee Young in guarding her.”
The win coupled with Thursday night’s win over Aberdeen Roncalli kept Belle Fourche (7-0) unblemished heading into 2018 and an encounter with Red Cloud Jan. 6 in Belle Fourche (3 p.m.).