York drops OT heartbreaker despite 31 points from Blass

York senior guard Mariann Blass had the game of her life Tuesday night at the New Trier class 4A sectional semifinal.

Blass scored 31 points, and her two free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining in regulation against Loyola sent the contest into overtime.

Unfortunately for the Dukes, however, despite a stirring comeback, they fell just short.

The Ramblers amped up the defensive pressure in the overtime period, getting four early steals and converting them into points.

York got behind by 8 in the final four minutes, rallied again thanks to 3 late 3-pointers by Blass, but couldn't make it all the way back in a 69-66 Loyola win.

"We did a great job of coming back," said Dukes coach Brandon Collings. "The heart of these ladies is amazing. Mariann put us on her back in the first half, and gave us a chance in the second half. She was incredible.

"They battled the entire game."

York missed all 10 of their 3-point attempts in the first quarter as Loyola opened up a big lead, but the Dukes roared back over the next three quarters to send the game into an extra session.

"Loyola is an incredible team," said Blass, "and we knew it was going to be an even matchup. I'm proud of the way we fought back, but I can't deny that losing by three and having our season end is pretty devastating."

Blass hit four consecutive 3s in the second quarter (she finished with 7 for the game), and the Dukes took their first lead at 26-25 just before halftime.

Then Loyola recovered to take a 30-26 advantage at intermission, and they kept the pressure on and led 48-41 late in the fourth period.

But York's Lizzie Baldridge hit a shot from long range with under a minute left, the Dukes got a couple of turnovers, and Blass was fouled on a late drive to the basket and sank her free throws to tie the game at 55-55.

And despite the terrific long range shooting from Blass again in OT, Loyola put the game away at the free-throw line.

Ramblers guard Paige Engels scored 28 points, and her 6 converted foul shots in the final minute was the difference.

"We put ourselves in a tough spot with fouls," said Blass. "That's tough to fight back from and I think that was the difference."

Stella Kohl had a game-high 10 rebounds for York, senior Baldridge scored 12 points, while classmate Allison Sheehan finished with 9 points.

"We left everything on the floor tonight," said Sheehan. "Everyone played their part and hit some big shots. We fell short, but we played as a team."

And after her memorable performance, Blass, who will play at Quincy University in the fall, reflected on how much playing for the Dukes has meant to her.

"It's been a really great four years," she said. "Every season has been special in its own way, I've had amazing teammates and coaches, and it's so sad to see it end."

"I've been blessed to have been a part of this great program. I couldn't have asked for anything more."

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