By Sara Welch | Staff Writer
Mapleton claimed the Creston Division IV District championship on Saturday at Norwayne High School after defeating Mogadore 64-61, despite a thrilling fourth quarter in which the Mounties were outscored 24-16 by the Wildcats.
"I just got done telling the girls I'm very proud of them," Mogadore girls basketball head coach Tom Pollock said after the game. "We were down and out. We had no business coming back. Everything was going their way, and we fought back and made a comeback. It just didn't turn out our way."
The Wildcats (22-4) faced an 11-point deficit going into the fourth quarter. The separation grew to 15 points in the first minute-and-a-half.
Brinkley Harvey finally broke Mapleton's 12-point run that spanned across the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer around the six-minute mark. Over the next two-and-a-half minutes, the Wildcats would cut the score to 58-51 before scoring five unanswered points.
Mogadore was able to edge Mapleton, while trading baskets with the Mounties, on 3-pointers from Naomi Pollock and Katie Oliver, who each had two in the game. As a team, Mogadore finished with seven 3-pointers total.
Both Ashley Barker of Mogadore and one of Mapleton's biggest offensive threats, Hannah Krause, had fouled out of the game with 2:30 and 3:30 on the clock, respectively. Krause finished the game with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Both teams reached the double-bonus well before that point, making what remained of the game an even playing field.
With 1:24 left in the final quarter, Harvey again boosted the Wildcats' momentum and tied the score, 60-60. Mackenzie Guy answered her basket with just over a minute on the clock, lifting the Mounties to a 2-point advantage (62-60).
After Mapleton (19-7) high-scorer, Leslie Rogers, who had 18 points, completed an empty trip to the line, Mogadore's Grace Reilly found herself behind the charity stripe at the other end of the floor, needing both baskets to tie the score.
Reilly went 1-for-2 and the Wildcats trailed 62-61 with 17 seconds left. Reilly would finish the game as high scorer for both teams with her 23 points.
Forced to foul, Mogadore sent Faith Edwards and Jerrica Smith to the line, where both went 1-for-2 to push the lead to the eventual final of 64-61. Grabbing the rebound from Smith's second missed foul shot, Reilly unsuccessfully heaved a final shot toward the far end of the court as the buzzer sounded.
The Wildcats ended the game three points shy of a district championship and a regional berth; however, they went out fighting.
"They're a great team. It was a good fun game," Pollock said. "It was enjoyable to coach even if somebody had to lose. They're a good team and a classy organization. If you're going to get beat, you might as well get beat by somebody like that."
More than missing the opportunity to continue to the next stage of the tournament, Mogadore will miss its senior leaders, Pollock, Harvey and Barker, who carried them to a 22-win season -- tying a school record for most wins in a single season.
"Whether you're 0-20 or 20-0 or midrange, you're going to miss your seniors," Pollock said. "They are a fun group of girls. They played hard and that's what I told them, too. The sad part of this loss is that it's over. If it was the middle of the season and we had lost it'd just be another game, but now it's over. We realize it's over and that's the sad part."
Naomi Pollock finished with a game-high 12 rebounds and also scored six points. Barker had eight points and six rebounds, while Harvey added seven points and four rebounds for the Wildcats.