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Lady Broncos’ state hopes dashed by last-second Brady miracle PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 03 March 2011 21:06

By Josh Sumner

The Wauneta Breeze

 

The Wauneta-Palisade girls basketball team (16-9) could literally taste victory on the tips of their tongues as they carried a 9-point lead inside the 2-minute mark of last Friday’s district championship game.

There were probably few, if any, believers in the Wallace gymnasium who gave Brady (20-4) a fighting chance to get back in the ball game.

But in a comeback for the ages, Brady did just that. Finishing the game on a 14-3 run, the Eagles came back to defeat the Wau-Pal Lady Broncos 49-47 en route to the D2-5 district championship and a state tournament berth.

“Some of our players thought it was over a little too soon,” said WP Head Coach Roger Lauhead, citing the loss as the “worst” he can remember in more than 30 years of coaching high school basketball.

Lady Bronco Brooklyn Nordhausen (No. 23), at left, clutches the basketball as she prepares to face-up against Brady’s Jessica Schrad. (Wauneta Breeze Photos | Josh Sumner)

 

“I’ve had teams get the heck beat out of them, but I’ve never had a team with that big of a lead get beat,” said Lauhead. “We had a 9-point lead — that should have been enough.”

The game felt like it was heading toward a suspenseful ending from the opening tip — that was until a 10-0 fourth quarter WP run seemed to ice the game for the Lady Broncos.

A pair of made free throws by Wau-Pal’s Jenae Bischoff capped the run, giving the Lady Broncos a 44-35 lead with just under 2 minutes remaining in the game.

Then Brady began its remarkable return.

Unable to buy a basket from beyond 10 feet for the entire evening, Brady splashed home its first 3-pointer of the night right out of a timeout after Bischoff’s second made free throw.

Brady turned up the tempo, while the Lady Broncos tried to melt the clock. The Eagles sent Wau-Pal, who had been shot an impressive 18 for 23 from the free throw line to that point, to the foul line 6 times in the last couple minutes — they were going to make the Lady Broncos win it with free throw shooting.

The tactic worked. Wauneta-Palisade struggled, going only 3 for 6 from the charity stripe in the waning minutes. Meanwhile, everything Brady threw at the bucket seemed to go in.

Sheyla Christner, of the Lady Broncos, (No. 25) has her shot tipped by a Brady defender in last Friday’s district championship game. Christner found her stride in the second half, scoring 11 points in the game.

 

“Once it got close, some panic set in and our players got tense,” said Lauhead, who was forced to watch his team miss the same free throw shots that helped them build their lead.

Still, as Brady continued to gain momentum in the game’s closing seconds, the Lady Broncos were alive. WP’s Sheyla Christner made a free throw with 19.6 seconds left in the game to give her team a 2-point lead.

Brady quickly inbounded the ball, marched the length of the court, and worked the ball inside to Jessica Schrad for an easy 2-point bucket to tie the game 47-47. The made basket seemed to come effortlessly to Schrad and her teammates, who had worked the ball inside the paint for good shot opportunities all night long.

Again, still, the Lady Broncos had life. With 4.9 seconds left in the game, WP was forced into the same situation Brady had just been in. Stuck underneath their own basket, they’d have to go the length of the court to get a decent shot. And if they didn’t go down and hit the game-winner, they would still have overtime to take the game back.

Overtime never came.

The ensuing inbounds play was bobbled which led to a held ball call on the floor. As luck would have it for the Lady Broncos, the possession arrow pointed toward Brady.

With 1.7 seconds showing on the game clock, Brady got to inbound the ball from the near sideline. Megan Polt threw the ball in to Dakota Terry, who tossed up a Hail Mary from the top of the key.

What followed were shrieks of joy from the Brady side of the gym and dropped jaws for Lady Broncos fans, as the ball found its way through the hoop. Brady had completed the improbable comeback, escaping with a death-defying 49-47 victory.

The Lady Broncos seemed to have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

“Brady just went for it,” said Lauhead. “They weren’t playing tight because I think they thought they didn’t have much to lose — I think they thought it was over.”

Leading the scoring effort for the Lady Broncos in the game was Bethany Riener with 20 points. Riener went a perfect 10 for 10 from the free throw line in the final basketball game of her high school career.

Riener put her team on her back in the first half, scoring 14 of the Lady Broncs’ 16 first half points.

In the second half, as Brady attempted to contain Riener with a box-and-1 defense, the other Lady Broncos picked up the scoring slack. Christner found her inside game, finishing the game with 11 points. Jenae Bischoff also scored 11, including 2 made 3-pointers.

The Eagles were led in scoring by Courtney Widick’s 16 points. Terry and Schrad finished the game with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

The Lady Broncos finish the 2010-2011 basketball season with a 16-9 record, which includes an impressive subdistrict title run. Wau-Pal ran off a 16-5 record after beginning the season 0-4.

See next week’s Breeze for complete season statistics and a look back at the year that was for the WP girls basketball team.