Wolves bite Mavs in overtime
Harris-Lake Park surrendered a five-point lead late Friday night, but cranked up the defensive intensity in overtime to down Clay Central-Everly 62-50 in Lake Park.
"I thought we played real well," Harris-Lake Park coach Andy Irwin said. "We were down another player tonight. We've kind of had some illness going around, but the girls played real well tonight. (CC-E) slowed us down. They did a real good job defensively, especially in that first half. We struggled a little bit with their full-court pressure. But I think our kids persevered and had a good second half. We had an opportunity there at the end (of regulation) but (CC-E) did a great job of getting some shots to go to force overtime. Then I felt like we really took over."
The Wolves trailed 37-32 heading into the final stanza, but quickly gained an advantage with a putback by Avery Heikens to take a 40-39 lead.
A three-pointer by Taylor Meyer stretched the lead to two at 43-41 and a bucket by Blake Gunderson and a pair of free throws by Grace Elser gave the Wolves a comfortable 48-43 lead with 15 seconds left in regulation.
Trailing by five, the Mavs looked to junior Audrey Ruda, and she answered.
Ruda nailed a triple to pull her squad within two and sunk a jumper at the buzzer to knot the contest and send it into overtime.
The Wolves twice went to the line in the final seconds but failed to connect on either trip.
"We really wanted to put some pressure on them down the stretch, but we knew we had to play straight up," Irwin said. "That's what we were focused on at that point. They made some big shots down the stretch. The free throws were tough. It's something that you work on, but you've got to give the kids credit for going to the line in a pressure situation. Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don't. It would have been nice to get one of those to go, but our girls weren't discouraged by that, so that was a real good thing for them."
While the Wolves' free throw struggles followed them into overtime, they made up the difference on the defensive end. Clay Central-Everly scored just two points on a pair of free throws as Harris-Lake Park outscored the Mavs 14-2 to seal the victory.
"In overtime, we just said we were going to work our hands and work our feet," Irwin said. "We extended our 2-3 zone out a little bit to be a little bit more aggressive. It really paid off for us."
Taylor Meyer led the way with 20 points. She also had four steals and four assists.
Avery Heikens had 13 points. Jazmin Voehl and Grace Elser had 10 points each. Voehl also had 13 rebounds, five assists and a block. Elser had two steals and a block. Blake Gunderson had nine rebounds, four steals, two assists and a block for the Wolves, who improved to 8-12 overall on the season.
Harris-Lake Park returns to action Tuesday, Feb. 6 when the Wolves wrap their regular season at home against Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn/Remsen-Union.
"I thought Clay Central-Everly was vastly improved. It was good to get this win," Irwin said. "We feel like we've been able to put four quarters together pretty consistently in this second half of the season, so we're looking forward to closing the regular season out strong."