February 18, 2014 | 04:24 PMDown by 5 with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Badger girls sharpened their game against Union Grove.
The girls rallied and cut the deficit to 2 points with 10 seconds left to play. Maria Mieres-Rey drove through the lane and made a short jumper to tie the game. Lily Quinn stole the ball from Union Grove which had just regained possession and made a shot off the backboard — but just a fraction of a second late.
The Badger students in the stands didn't seem to notice. A torrent of cheers and shouts drowned out the referee's whistle.
Quinn's shot didn't count, but Mieres-Rey's jumper pushed the game into overtime.
Union Grove made a shot and Badger answered with a 3-pointer from Kortlyn Freeman. The score was 39-38 with three minutes to play. Freeman and Mieres-Rey fouled out.
Union Grove took the lead and held it. The score was 44-42. Brianna Flower dribbled around a screen and passed to Jennifer Freeman, who was waiting a few steps behind the 3-point line with 4.2 seconds on the clock.
"Jen (Freeman) hit a clutch shot," Badger head coach David Jooss said. "The kind of shot you dream about."
The ball sailed through the net. Badger went up 45-44. Union Grove scrambled down the court, but time expired. Badger won.
"It was just one of those special games," Jooss said. "I think every player on our team will remember that one forever. I mean, it came down to the wire. It really took a complete effort to win that one."
Badger is 15-3 and is in second place in the Southern Lakes, just a half game behind Wilmot. Union Grove fell to 8-10 overall (6-5 SLC).
Kortlyn Freeman led the Badgers with 14 points. Lily Quinn scored 9, Sam Tisa had 6 and Jennifer Freeman contributed 5.
Even when the girls were down with just seconds left to play, Jooss said he was confident his girls would come back.
"We've found a way to win those this year," Jooss said. "I think the kids have played pretty well under pressure, and I think we have gamers on our team. A lot of kids would've stepped up and taken that shot. Jen's a very good shooter and made a great play and knocked it down."
Victory would come down to executing as a team, Jooss said, and the girls delivered.
"A lot of things had to go right to make that (last shot) happen," Jooss said. "And that's what's so cool about it. It took a total team effort. Somebody had to get the rebound and make a good outlet pass.
"(Flower) had to drive and kick and Jen (Freeman) had to knock down an NBA three, I mean it was a couple steps behind the line … It really did take a team effort to win that one."
Badger has two games to play this week before the sectional seeding meeting on Saturday, which will decide the team's position in the playoff bracket.
Badger will play Union Grove High School again at 7 p.m. Thursday night in Union Grove. The game was rescheduled from Monday night.
Jooss said he doesn't plan on making any significant changes going into the team's second-consecutive game against Union Grove.
"I think any time you play somebody else, you want to make sure you're working on your stuff first," Jooss said. "Because you can make adjustments and spend a bunch of time on it, and then they'll do something totally different."
At 7 p.m. on Friday night, Badger will play Elkhorn Area High School in Elkhorn. Elkhorn is 5-12 overall (4-7 SLC).
"You got to be ready to go every night," Jooss said. "Every team at this point of the season, especially when you're at the top of the conference, you're going to get everyone's best game."
Jooss said this week's games could have a significant impact on how teams are seeded during Saturday's meeting.
"Even though it's a week away, there's still a lot of basketball to play," Jooss said. "I mean, almost every team, with all the cancellations, still plays two games this week before that seeding meeting. So what happens this week will make a big impact on what seeding everyone gets on Saturday."
The girls had a couple extra days of practice before the Union Grove game this week.
Jooss said his girls will be ready — they've been getting better and working hard every week.
"Any adjustments we make will be small," Jooss said.