BRYAN – Survival. Fighting for a league title late in the season, the only thing that counts is winning and surviving.
Evergreen did just that, surviving an inexplicable 16 missed free throws, an uncharacteristic seven second quarter turnovers and finally Kennedy Lamberson’s line drive bank shot that sent the game into overtime to finally defeat Bryan Thursday night, 56-54, to claim at the worst a share of the NWOAL basketball title.
“Those are things we just usually don’t do,” Viking coach John Langenderfer said of the ugly offensive second quarter and the missed free throws. “We average about 10 turnovers the whole game and to have seven in one quarter – wow. And the foul line, well I guess it was just one of those nights.”
Evergreen used a pair of first quarter triple from Rachael Noe, and one each from Alyssa Noe and Hannah Herr to jump out to a 20-15 lead, but then came the second stanza.
While the Vikings couldn’t connect with each other, Lamberson scored seven of the Bears 10 second quarter points to help Bryan grab a 25-24 halftime lead.
Evergreen righted the ship in the third quarter, going up by six but that’s when Eden Eisel and Kaela Fauble both went to the bench with four fouls to allow the Golden Bears to climb back into the game.
Eisel seemingly made a game winning play, going coast-to-coast after a turnover and scoring with eight seconds left to put the Vikings up 46-44, but Allye Minor came down court and found Lamberson at the left of the foul line, and her bank off the glass found the bottom of the net at the buzzer to send the game into an extra session.
The Vikings jumped out quick in overtime as Alyssa Noe slashed through the Bryan defense for a score, Eisel duplicated her coast-to-coast jaunt at the end of the fourth for another score in overtime, and Haili Mossing drove the key for a third hoop to put the Vikes ahead 52-46.
Minor’s triple got the Bears within three, but Eisel answered right back and gave Evergreen a five-point advantage at 54-49.
McKenna Grube scored on a putback basket for the Golden Bears, and forced to foul, Bryan put Rachael Noe on the line with eight seconds left.
Noe drained both free throws which made Lamberson’s triple off the glass at the buzzer meaningless, keeping Evergreen undefeated at 7-0 in the league, and a game ahead of the Delta Panthers with one week left in league play.
“Getting a share of the title is good,” explained Langenderfer, whose Vikings also got a share in 2010-2011. “The kids have worked hard and one of our goals was to win the league. The kids also want to go 8-0 which no Evergreen girls basketball team has ever done in the league. Trying to get to 20 wins, winning the sectional, winning the district, there’s four main goals out there besides number five, having some fun. So many of them are still in front of us.”
Eisel’s 16 led a trio of Vikings that hit double figures. Alyssa Noe followed with 14 and Rachael Noe added 10 for the Vikings, now 14-2 overall.
Lamberson took game honors for Bryan with 21, including five triples while Minor got 13.
Evergreen hosts Wauseon Thursday in the their NWOAL finale.
Joe Blystone can be reached at email@example.com