Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Calvin — Allen and Roff turned the girls bracket upside down Wednesday at semifinal night at the weather-delayed Pontotoc Conference Tournament in Calvin.
No. 5 seed Allen scored the go-ahead basket on a putback basket by Charlea Leonard with 12 seconds left to upset No. 1 seed Asher 48-46 in the opener.
No. 3 seed Roff joined the Lady Mustangs in the finals after watching almost all of a 20-point fourth-quarter lead disappear before turning back No. 2 seed Vanoss 41-31.
Roff head coach Blake Crawford said he looks forward to the unlikely championship matchup, scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.
“Allen’s got a good ball club. With us and Allen in the finals, I don’t think anybody saw that coming,” he said. “I think it will be a good game. I think we match up well with them.”
The first girls game Saturday will be a consolation title game at noon, followed by the girls third-place contest between Asher and Vanoss at 3 p.m.
Allen 48, Asher 46
After Leonard gave her team the lead, Asher hurried the ball down court and called time out with eight seconds left. Haley Odell missed a 3-pointer, and the Lady Indians misfired on a potential game-tying putback before time ran out.
Asher ended up making just 15-of-58 two-point field goals in the contest and also hit just 7-of-14 free shots.
“It just wasn’t meant to be for us tonight,” said Asher head coach Tari Dubler, who saw her team fall to 5-2 on the year. “We just couldn’t score and gave them too many opportunities.”
Asher led 30-24 at halftime, but Allen cut the lead to 37-36 heading into what would be an exciting fourth quarter. Asher freshman phenom Tarin Dubler picked up four fouls in the pivotal third period and sat on the bench for around five minutes before playing the final five and a half minutes of the game. She still scored a team-high 14 points.
Allen limited Asher post player Shelby Fleming to just a pair of second-half field goal and 13 points overall.
“Charlea Leonard, Sondra Rowsey, Faith Caldwell all did a good job on the Fleming girl,” said Allen head coach Jeremy Strong.
It was the Lady Mustangs' first victory over Asher that Strong could recall.
“I think this is the first time my girls have beaten Asher, even since the seventh and eighth grade — in anything, softball or basketball,” he said.
When Asher used its strong second quarter to grab the lead at the break, Strong said his team didn’t panic.
“We kept our composure and stayed with the game plan. We continued to play tough, physical defense,” he said.
Leonard finished with a game-high 19 points and now has 40 points in two tournament victories. Miranda Raney and Alison Sells followed with seven points each.
Strong hinted he and his team may have had a chip on their collective shoulders after drawing the No. 5 seed.
“That’s the bad thing about us being a football school. We don’t get the luxury of playing seven, eight or nine games before the tournament starts, so nobody knows how we are,” he said. “Fair or not fair, getting the No. 4 or No. 5 seed — it is what it is. I didn’t agree with it, but I just wanted my girls to go play.”
Roff 41, Vanoss 31
The Lady TIgers looked like they were on the way to a romp after Breecia Crawford scored four straight points (on a pair of free throws and a nice drive to the basket) that pushed a Roff lead to 34-14 with 6:26 to play. That capped a huge 20-6 Roff run to start the second half.
Vanoss senior Taylor Smith hit her only 3-pointer of the game to stop the VHS bleeding and start an impressive 16-2 run that got the Lady Wolves within six at 36-30 after four straight free throws by Kalli Mowdy.
Jalee Hood scored a big bucket after a timeout with 1:16 left, and Roff limited the Lady Wolves to just a single free throw by Mowdy the rest of the way.
Roff missed 10 fourth-quarter free throws that could have made things a bit more comfortable for the Lady Tigers down the stretch.
“The game got a lot more physical. We missed some easy finishes on the end of some transition buckets and then missed our free throws,” coach Crawford said of Vanoss' near comeback. “If we hit free throws, it’s still a 20-25-point game. But when you don’t, it gets close.”
The game was tied at 8 all with 4:47 left in the second quarter, but Vanoss went into a mini-drought and Roff scored six unanswered points — including four by Lauren Trimmer — to take a 14-8 halftime lead. Trimmer would score a game-high 19 points and hit 10-of-11 free throws in the game.
Breecia Crawford would finish her big night with 13 points and a whopping 17 rebounds.
Coach Crawford, like Strong, was excited about a matchup of the two surprise teams in the finals.
“It’s always nice to be in the championship game. I thought we probably should have been in 2 seed overall coming in to the tournament anyway,” he said. “Allen’s a good ball club.”