It’s not how much you lead during the course of a basketball game that counts. It’s that you’re leading when the final horn sounds.
After leading only 11 seconds in regulation but winning in overtime, that’s the lesson Rapid City Central’s girls' basketball team took away Saturday from its 50-47 victory over Pierre at Howard Naasz Gymnasium.
“We’ve been really close with teams — really back and forth with them — but we weren’t able to finish,” Cobbler senior Adison Young said following the win. “But finally it’s happening. We figured it out and now we’ve finished a few games with wins.”
It took a herculean effort by Central just to get to overtime.
The Cobblers trailed 40-33 with 2:43 to play in regulation after Pierre’s Kenzie Gronlund hit a free throw. The Cobblers got some timely shooting and gutsy defensive play to battle back and force overtime.
Junior guard Jordan Heckert hit a 3-pointer from the right corner — drawing a foul but missing the free throw — to get Central started on the comeback path. Young matched Heckert’s 3 but from the opposite corner to pull the Cobblers within 41-39 before Heckert jumped a passing lane for a steal and layup to tie the game at 41-all with 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“We got some really clutch plays down the stretch,” Cobblers coach Kraig Blomme said. “Jordan hits a three when she gets fouled. Some big free throws by Adison and again a play from Jordan. Just a lot of desire to win the ballgame.”
The Governors got some good looks in the final two minutes of regulation, but they didn’t finish those possession with baskets.
Pierre’s Remington Price had her shot blocked by 6-foot-2 Josie Hill as the 5-4 Price went to the basket. Then Kylee Thorpe was free for an open layup with just over a minute to play, but slipped as she went to go up to score and instead turned the ball over.
Pierre coach Scott DeBoer felt the game’s fortunes swung on how Central played in the paint. The Governors got few uncontested looks near the basket and only six of their 39 rebounds came at the offensive end.
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“Where they’ve improved is how aggressively they went to the boards,” he said of Central. “They did a really good job being physical and going to get the ball. And they got a few really big possessions because of how they battled for offensive rebounds.”
Central jumped out to a quick lead in overtime when Young canned a corner 3-pointer to stake the Cobblers to a quick 44-41 lead.
“I’ve been hesitant to shoot; I’m just not much of a shooter,” Young said. “But after I made it, I just knew it was really good for the team. It really helped to get that shot in.”
The Governors hit 3 of 4 free throws to tie the game at 44-all. But Heckert and Young, who both finished with 13 points, hit four straight free throws to push Central up 48-44.
Price, who led Pierre with 13 points off the bench, nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing with 11.4 seconds to play to pull the Governors within 48-47. Then Heckert calmly knocked down a pair of free throws to make it 50-47.
Coming out of a timeout down by three, Pierre again went to Price, but the ninth-grade guard didn’t get as good a look as she had seconds earlier and her game-tying shot came up short.
“In high school basketball, when you score first, that’s a dagger,” said DeBoer, whose team jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never trailed until Central led briefly 28-27 on a Denna Smith bucket. “Our kids responded well; they battled the whole four minutes.
“We found a way to get back and get a shot to tie it. We didn’t quite execute and get as good a look.”
The win was Central’s third in four games, and it’s the Cobblers second overtime win of the season.
“We’re not going to be a high-scoring team,” said Blomme, whose team held Pierre to 27.7% shooting from the floor for the game. “If we can play tight defense and hold other teams down, we’re going to be in a lot of tight ballgames.”
Central (4-5) returns to action on Thursday when the Cobblers host Sturgis, tipping off at 6:30 p.m.