|Bennett trey saves the game|
|Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt|
Seventeen seconds to go, the Lady Dragons are down by two. It’s Holyoke’s ball on the side after a Hayden basket.
Time out Dragons—one big strategy conference.
Coach Arlan Scholl set the plan—get the ball to Laura Gerk, have Mallory Bennett set a screen, then Gerk can drive hard to the basket.
Holyoke puts the ball into play with tight Tiger defense. The Dragons hang on. Time is running tight.
Bennett sets the screen, but the defense follows Gerk. Bennett picks up the ball, turns and puts up the shot. The buzzer sounds. The ball swishes.
Holyoke fans erupt with cheers as the game is going into overtime. Hallelujah, we’re still here.
But wait. What’s that? Bennett’s shot was from three-point range?
Talk about an ecstatic Dragon crowd Friday afternoon.
In a thrilling down-to-the-wire game that won’t soon be forgotten,
Holyoke fans explode when they realize Mallory Bennett’s buzzer shot didn’t tie the game at 40-all,
Holyoke defeated the Hayden Tigers 41-40 to advance to the consolation championship in the 2A State Basketball Showdown at Massari Arena at CSU-Pueblo.
Leading—and leading big—throughout the ball game, the Lady Dragons were devastated by the Tiger comeback in the fourth quarter. But they didn’t give up.
From an 18-point lead early in the third to a two-point deficit with 17 seconds remaining in the game, the Dragons had definitely lost some ground. But giving up was never an option.
The win was a great cause for celebration.
Celebrating the Dragon victory at the buzzer over Hayden are team
Laura Gerk and Bennett scored the lion’s share of Holyoke’s points in Friday’s ball game, with 20 and 15 respectively. They were the only two players to put the ball through the hoop in the entire first half.
Gerk scored all eight of the HHS first-quarter points, propelling the team to an 8-2 lead.
Hayden just couldn’t get their shots to go in, and the Dragons rebounded well for a hefty Holyoke lead.
Gerk added the next five Dragon points, then Bennett stepped in to start sharing the scoring honors. Both girls tallied seven in the second quarter to push the Lady Dragons to a 22-11 lead.
Marci Vasa hit a two-pointer to kick off third-quarter action, then Gerk sank another trey and then a two-pointer for an 18-point Dragon advantage, 29-11.
Holyoke outscored Hayden 9-8 in the third to maintain a 12-point lead, 31-19.
But the tide turned in the fourth when Hayden came alive, scoring 11 straight points to move within one, with 4:27 on the clock.
“We got tired, and we didn’t handle their press well in the last quarter,” said coach Scholl.
Marci Vasa maneuvers capably around a Hayden defender Friday
Bennett sank a two-pointer and Vasa made a free throw and the HHS lead widened to four points.
When the Tigers scored two two-point baskets, the ball game was tied at 34-all with 2:39 on the game clock.
Bennett marked another two, but Hayden answered with two twos and the Dragons were behind with time ticking down to 1:43.
Free throws by Bennett and Vasa tied the game at 38-38, with time down to :54.
Hayden put up a couple of failed shots, but got their own offensive rebounds and suddenly high-point Tiger Aubree Haskins was at the charity stripe with :17.7 on the clock.
Her two shots were both good and put her team on top by two.
At left, Dragon Laura Gerk puts up a second-quarter shot in Friday’s
It was a never-give-up Dragon team that rallied to the cause at that point. And it was a successful three-point shot from a nontypical three-point shooter that secured the Dragon win.
It’s not that Bennett can’t make three-point shots, it’s just that she’s typically inside around the basket.
The team and crowd won’t soon forget the buzzer basket she scored against Hayden.
Bennett pulled down 13 boards (11 defensive and two offensive) to lead the Dragons, while Gerk and Marci Vasa each grabbed six, and Kaylee Groshans managed five.
Vasa led in assists with six and in steals with three.
Kaylee Groshans (53) holds her own against three Hayden defenders in Friday’s HHS victory at CSU-Pueblo. —Enterprise photo