Tags: Feature Sports Story, Sports
February 02, 2012 | 10:31 PMThe look on Karina Reeves' face said it all.
Roughly 20 minutes after her team's 64-62 overtime victory over Wilmot Thursday night, an emotional Reeves, playing in her second game of the season after missing the first 14, fought back tears of joy as she stood triumphantly with teammates Emma Kopp and Lana Wieseman.
"It's so exciting," said Reeves, who bucketed the go-ahead layup to put Badger up 63-62 with 22.2 seconds left. "I'm so happy to play with my team again."
"We're so happy to have her back," Wieseman added.
Wieseman scored 20 of her career-high 28 points in the second half and overtime, and Reeves added 12 including the game-winner in overtime.
Badger improved to 11-5 overall and 7-2 in the Southern Lakes Conference, climbing into sole possession of first place for the moment, ahead of Union Grove (6-2), who downed Badger, 57-49, on Monday. Badger has five SLC games left, while the Broncos have six.
Wilmot gave the host Badgers all they could handle Thursday, in a much-hyped battle for first place. The Panthers (5-3 SLC) would've landed in a three-way tie with Union Grove and Badger with a win. Wilmot was coming off a tough overtime loss against Waterford Tuesday night. Preps Plus filmed the contest, which will be aired Sunday night at 11 p.m. on TMJ 4.
The Lady Badgers gave the TV guy plenty of solid footage in the third quarter. After taking a 25-24 lead into halftime, Badger opened a 45-33 lead after three quarters thanks to some sharpshooting.
Wieseman started the second half with a flurry, scoring her team's first 13 points to help build a 38-28 lead. A Kopp steal and layup along with a Reeves triple opened the squad's largest lead heading into the fourth.
But Wilmot wasn't ready to go home quite yet. The Panthers fired off a 7-0 run to open the fourth. Then, Kaytlyn Eidson's three-point play followed by two Sarah Vozel free throws cut the Badger lead to 54-53 with 2:40 remaining. With 1:20 left, Vozel stripped Andrea Chironis and laid the ball in to give Wilmot its first lead since the second quarter.
Kopp's steal and hanging layup around two defenders put Badger back up, 56-55, but Vozel hit a crucial free throw with 14 seconds left to tie it at 56-56. With 3.5 seconds left in regulation, Taylar Keenan received the inbound pass but avoided an open 15-foot jumper to try to find Reeves in the post. However, the ball was knocked away and time ran out.
In overtime, Vozel's off-balance, 10-foot jumper over Reeves' smothering defense with a minute left gave Wilmot a 60-59 advantage. Then, despite knocking her opponent to the ground with an extended forearm, Wieseman got a favorable call and was able to knock down two free throws to make it 61-60.
After an Eidson basket lifted the Panthers to a 62-61 lead, the stage was set for Kopp, a senior leader and floor general. She started at half court and flooded the lane before dishing a perfect pass to a wide-open Reeves on the left side of the hoop. Reeves absorbed contact and bucketed the layup, which put Badger up 63-62. Reeves missed the foul shot, though, and Wilmot had life again.
On the ensuing possession, stingy man-to-man Badger defense thwarted drives by Vozel and Eidson before Wilmot called timeout with 7.4 seconds to go.
Out of the timeout, Eidson spun to the baseline and missed an off-balance turnaround jumper thanks to stingy man-to-man defense from Badger's Annie Gaugert. Wieseman corralled the rebound and hit another free throw, which put her club up 64-62 with 1.7 seconds left. Wilmot's inbound pass was stolen by Kopp, and it was celebration time for the girls.
When the clock hit all zeroes, the Badger bench erupted in jubilation.
"We knew the surge was coming from Wilmot," Badger coach David Jooss said. "They're such a good basketball team. I liked the resilience we showed. We got great senior leadership. Lana and Emma played pretty big today. You're not going to see a better high school basketball game."
Jooss added it was nice to have Reeves back this week.
"She can do everything," he said. "We've missed that from her. She guarded Vozel the whole game. She played a really good basketball game."
Kopp tallied 10 points, including two triples. Also, Taylar Keenan added eight points for Badger.
Eidson led the Panthers with 19 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Also, Vozel scored 16, her season average, with 11 coming in the final 12 minutes.
Wilmot coach Keiya Square said Wieseman presented his team with matchup nightmares.
"She's just bigger and more physical than anyone we have," he said. "No matter who we put on her, she was able to get around them. She's a senior, she's been around and she knows how to position her body."
Jooss said he likes his team's position after Thursday's win, but winning the SLC won't be easy.
"We always want to be able to control our own destiny in the conference," he said. "All the games will be tough. The SLC is so balanced. Every night you better have it, or you're going to get beat. You can't look at records."
Kopp said the team will only get better with this big win.
"It's definitely a motivator," she said. "We're going to get better every day in practice and make sure we're at our full potential by the end of the season."