Prairie Ridge pulls out OT win over Crystal Lake South
Crystal Lake South's Laken LePage hit a running, one-handed shot with 5.5 seconds left on one end of the court and swatted away Prairie Ridge's shot at the buzzer on the other end to send Tuesday's Fox Valley Conference game to overtime.
At that point, Prairie Ridge coach Tim Taege didn't like what he saw.
"The body image was poor," Taege said. "So we just tried to instill a fresh-start mentality and come out and act like it's opening tip of the first quarter. You can't let what happened prior carry over. I still think we were in a little bit of a fog, but they snapped back quick and got going. An early bucket always helps."
After a steal by Grace Koeppen and a free throw by Addie Meyer to start the extra period, guard Kate Pactol converted a key three-point play to get the Wolves going.
The host Wolves went on to score all seven points in overtime, holding the Gators scoreless en route to a 50-43 victory against their crosstown rivals.
Koeppen, who had eight points and nine steals, wasn't too bummed about getting to play some more, as long her team got the win.
"That was more than a fun game," Koeppen said. "It was awesome. I enjoyed every second of it. I love getting to play with this team."
LePage led all scorers with 22 points, including 10 of her team's 13 points in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime. Prairie Ridge had taken the lead on a Koeppen steal and layup to end the third quarter in a wild, back-and-forth game between the rivals.
In the fourth, South forward Nicole Molgado scored on a putback to tie the game at 40 with 45 seconds to go. Prairie Ridge's Izzy Pollastrini then banked in a short jumper to give the Wolves the lead back with less than 30 seconds left.
On South's final possession, LePage, a freshman, drove and threw the ball up with her right hand near the baseline, and the ball dropped in.
Gators coach Mark Mucha said LePage has looked more and more comfortable every game.
"She works hard and she's getting better," Mucha said. "What's nice to see is she's getting more comfortable. We're really proud of her. She really knows the game, she's smart, she's athletic, and obviously you can see what she can do."
Molgado added 12 points, five blocks and eight rebounds for the Gators (2-5, 1-2), and Hanna Massie had nine points and eight rebounds.
LePage felt like she needed to give her team a spark in the final moments.
"We just needed a boost and energy when we were down," said LePage, who added seven rebounds. "We all brought it in the fourth quarter. I just saw an opening and I took advantage."
For Prairie Ridge, Koeppen came into the game feeling under the weather but came up big for her team in big moments.
"Grace wasn't feeling well and she really gutted one out," Taege said. "Especially defensively, which got us going to the other end in transition, and that's where we need to accumulate some buckets. We still haven't found the bottom of the basket very often. Eventually the ball is going to start to go."
Pactol and Meyer both had 11 points to lead the Wolves, and Abby Kay chipped in eight. Pollastrini added seven points in the win.
Koeppen is one of the returners for the Wolves, who graduated eight from their 27-6 team last year that won a Class 3A regional championship.
"It was different at first working with a new team, but I think we're really starting to click and figure out each other's strengths and weakness and help each other out," Koeppen said.