Last second free throws sink Lady Rebels' hopes of State Tourney berth

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cedar Ridge's Shannon Butler sank two free throws with one second left to help the Lady Timberwolves to a stunning 56-54 victory over Riverside in the first round of the 2A North Regional Tournament Wednesday afternoon at Pangburn. The victory sent Cedar Ridge to the Class 2A State Tournament while putting a heartbreaking end to the Lady Rebels' 2013-2014 season.

Riverside led throughout the entire game, until Cedar Ridge finally took a 49-48 edge with 1:46 left on Butler's three point play. Riverside regained the lead with an eight-foot floater from Kenzley Wilson, and pushed its advantage to 52-49 when Anna Brickell dropped in a pair of free throws at the 1:05 mark.

Riverside senior Anna Brickell battles for the ball with Lady Timberwolve Christine Mathes (12) during Wednesday's regional tournament action at Pangburn. (Town Crier photos/Trent Fletcher)

Liz Henderson made one of two charity tosses with 43 seconds to go, pulling Cedar Ridge to within 52-50, before Wilson answered with a free throw of her own with 29 ticks left, giving the Lady Rebels a three point lead once again.

Henderson drove the length of the court to slice the Lady Rebel lead to 53-52 with 22 seconds remaining. The Lady Timberwolves immediately fouled Catlyn Sailor at the 19 second mark. The senior guard sank one of two free throw attempts, giving Riverside a 54-52 lead.

Cassie Hendrix grabbed an offensive rebound on Cedar Ridge's next possession and stuck it back in to tie the game 54-54 with 10 seconds left on the clock. Immediately after Hendrix's basket, Riverside Coach Jeff Womack frantically tried to call time, but his pleas to the officials went unnoticed.The Lady Rebels inbounded the ball into the teeth of the Cedar Ridge press, where Sailor was trapped and stripped.

Lady Rebels Gattlin Hale (left) and Megan Davidson look on in dismay after Cedar Ridge took a two point lead with only one second left in Riverside's heartbreaking 56-54 loss Wednesday afternoon in the Class 2A Regional Tournament at Pangburn.

"I tried to get a time out after Cedar Ridge tied the game, but I couldn't get the official's attention," said Riverside Coach Jeff Womack. "That's the way it goes sometimes."

Henderson came away with the ball for the Lady Timberwolves, but missed from close range at the go-ahead bucket, but Butler was there to grab the rebound and was fouled with one second remaining. The Lady Timberwolves sophomore calmly put both free throws through the net, leaving Riverside with one last shot at victory, but Wilson's desperation heave from just inside the half court line banged off the rim, leaving Lady Rebel fans in despair.

"This was a really tough loss," said Womack. "I felt like we had every opportunity to win, but we didn't execute. I felt like we were the better team. I am very proud of our team. We are just disappointed."

Riverside, who came into the tournament seeded fourth, jumped to a quick start behind Wilson, who scored the Lady Rebels' first 11 points. With the game tied 8-8, Wilson and Chelsea Nichols ripped back to back treys, giving Riverside a 14-8 lead after the first quarter.

The Lady Rebels increased their margin to 10 points on another Wilson trey early in the second stanza. Henderson answered for Cedar Ridge, but Lady Rebel Skylar Kauke buried Riverside's fourth triple of the first half to push the lead back to 10. Riverside went into the dressing room with a 27-17 halftime advantage.

Cedar Ridge went to a box and one defense in hopes of corralling Wilson in the second half, and the strategy paid off for the Lady Timberwolves. Wilson, who scored 16 first half points, was held to just seven after intermission.

Cheyenne Brooks gave the Lady Timberwolves a shot in the arm offensively, scoring eight straight points to close the third quarter, including consecutive three pointers to slice the Lady Rebel lead to 38-35 entering the final frame.

Henderson began the fourth period with a three point play to tie the score at 38-all, but Riverside regained the lead with Gattlin Hale's offensive stick-back. The Lady Rebels pushed their lead to four on a Brickell free throw and a Nichols triple, but Cedar Ridge bounced back on baskets by Christine Mathes and Henderson to knot the score once again at the 2:22 mark, setting up the game's frantic finish.

Wilson closed her Riverside career with a game high 23 points. Kauke also hit double digits, scoring 10 points. Brickell, Nichols and Hale all pitched in six points each while Sailor added three. Riverside hit 9-16 foul shots and drained five three pointers.

Henderson topped the Lady Timberwolves with 21 points. Butler was next with 14 while Brooks added 11. Cedar Ridge dropped in 9-14 foul shots and drilled five treys.

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