McCOOL JUNCTION — Ahead of their conference tournament next week, two of the Crossroads Conference's best squared off Tuesday.
Class D-1 No. 8 Bruning-Davenport/Shickley visited McCool Junction, and the Mustangs defended their home court with a 49-44 win.
Junior BriAnn Stutzman sank a pair of free throws with 2.8 second remaining to finalize the 49-44 victory.
“It’s the big games that are so fun and if you don’t play these games during the season you don’t know what you’re made of,” said Mustangs head coach Alyssa VanWesten, whose team nearly squandered a double digit advantage.
“I’m proud of them for getting a cushion, but we talk about all of the time how basketball is a game of runs so we have to expect that they are going to make one themselves and they did. But I’m proud of how they battled and fought through it to win.”
McCool Junction survived a late rally by the Eagles (12-3). With the score tied at 19 at halftime, the third quarter saw the Mustangs build a 13-point lead only to see it fade in the fourth quarter.
BDS cut the Mustangs' lead to three points with 33.7 second left to play.
JessaLynn Hudson led the comeback, going a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and 5-for-5 from the charity stripe in the final quarter. She posted 24 points and 12 rebounds.
The Eagles had plenty of opportunities to tie or lead with the Mustangs missing back-to-back front end’s of 1-and-1 situations with under 30 seconds left to play.
The Mustangs (12-2), though, forced a turnover with 6.4 seconds left and the free throws by Stutzman put the game out of reach for the Eagles.
“We definitely had our chances at the end, but really the game isn’t won and lost in the final minutes or second,” BDS coach Shana Gerberding said. “There were a lot of things that we didn’t do well early and that hurt us. I don’t think this was our best basketball so to only lose by five isn’t bad, but it still stings. McCool is a great team and we will use this as motivation to keep getting better.”
After a slow start from both teams, senior Ashley Schlegel sparked an 8-2 BDS run with a shot from beyond the arc. Hudson added three points on an and-one and junior Hanna Kadel chipped in a layup to give the Eagles a 10-4 lead.
Stutzman scored a 3-point field goal early in the second quarter to cut the Eagles' lead to three points.
BDS stayed ahead with help from seven points by Kadel and two from Hudson.
Junior McKenna Yates got a steal that led to a McCool Junction layup with 1:13 left to play in the half. A pair of free throws from freshman Claire Brugger cut the lead to two points, and a basket from junior Sarah Weisheit tied the game before half.
After a quick BDS basket by Hudson to start the third quarter, Yates sparked a 12-2 run by the Mustangs.
“Yates is a great player and we knew a key to the game would be to try to contain her,” said Gerberding, whose team surrendered 25 points to the Mustangs' star guard.
“We did a pretty good job minus about six minutes in the third quarter and we had to play catch up the rest of the game.”
Yates gave the Mustangs their first lead of the game on a trey with 3:34 remaining in the third. Stutzman added her second 3-point field goal of the game late in the quarter followed by a lay up on a long pass from Yates to stake McCool Junction its largest lead.
Then they held off their conference foe across the last eight minutes.
“I think it’s great for their moral, and we’ve talked a lot this season about coming together as a team with a lot of unique parts,” VanWesten said. “We have just been talking about committing to each other and being willing to share the ball and step up for each other and they did that tonight against a darn good team.”
BDS (12-3)..................10 9 6 18 — 44
MJ (12-2)..................4 15 19 11 — 49
Malory Dickson 1-3 0-0 2, Hallie Hoins 1-5 1-2 3, JessaLynn Hudson 8-10 8-9 24, Hanna Kadel 4-11 0-0 9, Hannah Miller 1-5 1-2 3, Ashley Schlegel 1-5 0-0 3, Hayley Sliva 0-1 0-0 0.
McCool Junction (49)
Shelby Brandt 3-8 0-0 6, Claire Brugger 1-5 2-2 4, Ella Clark 0-1 0-0 0, Jadon Hess 0-0 0-0 0, BriAnn Stutzman 4-7 2-4 12, Sara Weisheit 1-4 0-2 2, McKenna Yates 10-25 2-3 25.
Three-point field goals: BDS 2-12 (Hoins 0-1, Hudson 0-2, Kadel 1-4, Miller 0-3, Schlegel 1-2) McCool Junction 5-18 (Clark 0-1, Stutzman 2-3, Yates 3-14).