Free throws doom Squaws late
Taylor Kuhnle shoots the jumper. (Photo by Deb Shannon)
The lid on the Bellmont basket that had earlier in the game been receptive to cashing in free throws closed tight in the final minutes of Saturday night's non-conference girls varsity basketball game with Heritage as the Squaws missed eight of their final nine tries in the fourth quarter and Heritage escaped with a 52-43 win.
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With the exception of about a one minute time period in the second period, Bellmont had led or was tied until the 2:57 mark of the final stanza when Kendall Knapke hit what was initially ruled a three-point shot but was quickly reversed to a two for a 42-40 Patriot lead.
The Squaws tied the contest again on a bucket by Audrey Schultz but Katie Saalfrank's hoop with 2:23 left gave the Pats a lead they would not lose.
Heritage marked up one more point on a Miriah Bradtmueller free throw but with 1:08 left the Pats attempted to return some breathing room for the Squaws as Audrey Schultz was fouled and sent to the line for a one-and-one situation.
A time out was called before Schultz could shoot and during that time out, Heritage's Tee McGraw disputed the official's call that had just fouled her out of the game. She delivered a gesture that referee Bud Wolf found objectionable and a technical foul was called, thus setting Bellmont up for a possible four free throws and the ball out-of-bounds.
Schultz missed the front end of her one-and-one and then Bellmont coach Andy Heim put Taylor Kuhnle at the line to shoot the technical tosses. She was errant on both and several seconds after the inbounds pass, Heritage stole the ball and picked up a free throw on a Bellmont foul several seconds later so instead of Bellmont possibly being up 48-45 (had the four charity tosses and inbounds play scored), they trailed 46-42.
Bellmont's Amanda Hunter was fouled with :39.8 left but missed both. Saalfrank cashed in a pair with :37.3 after Kuhnle's fifth foul of the game and the Patriots ended the game with two freebies from Knapke and Jackie Neimeyer. The only point of the final 2:40 of the game for Bellmont was a free throw by Bailey Christlieb with just :11.9 ticks left, much too late to help the Squaws.
The 2-0 Pats took advantage of 31 Bellmont turnovers, many of which were forced by the Heritage defensive pressure.
Heritage coach John Beckman noted his team was a little rusty early after having been off for 10 days but said "I thought defensively the entire team played well. We were forcing turnovers but early on weren't converting scores from them. I told the girls going into the fourth period that the percentages had to be with us and they just needed to keep the pressure up and we'd start to score."