Big finish ,lifts Eagle girls past Cougars for District 11-1A hoop crown
Wednesday, February 08, 2017 12:00 PM
The O’Donnell Eagle girls made it a three-peat as district champions with a big 58-51 hoop victory over Klondike Tuesday night at Cougar Gym.
O'Donnell's Brookl;yn Wilkie (10) makes hr move to the basket while being closely guarded by Klondike's Macy Sharp during Tuesday night's big District 11-1A basketball showdown at Klondike.
“This was definitely a challenge, just like we knew it would be coming over here tonight,” O’Donnell Coach Terry Collins said. “This was a great ball game. We’re just so proud of our kids.
“Our backs were against the wall and our girls came out fighting back to get this one.”
Despite Tuesday’s final outcome, Klondike Coach Jordan Beall left the court proud of her hoopsters as well.
“O’Donnell has a very good basketball team but our kids left it all out there on the floor,” Beall said.
“Free throws are always going to be big, especially in the big ball games. They made their’s, especially the big ones, while we didn’t do as well as we needed to at the line.”
With both teams ranked in the top 20 going into their final district game, the Eagles and Cougars were tied for first place with identical 8-1 league records.
O’Donnell’s win avenged a 59-49 loss to the Cougars on Jan. 20 at O’Donnell.
A fourth quarter was a key to the Eagles’ victory. Down 36-35 at the end of the third quarter, the Eagles outscored the Cougars 23-15 in the fourth quarter.
“Free throws down the stretch made a big difference for us. We ended up hitting 12 free throws there in that fourth quarter,” Collins said.
The Eagles were up 11-8 at the end of the first quarter and 23-21 at the half. Junior Prissy Gonzales’s 19 points led an Eagle trio in double digits. All-state guards Lexi Villarreal and Brooklyn Wilkie had 15 and 13 points respectively. Katye Gruben had four points and Zaelan Gloria had three.
Juniors Kameron Riddle and Alexi Bushong led the now 21-6 Cougar girls with 20 and 13 points respectively. Megan Arismendez had seven points, Kasey Whitley had six, Macy Sharp had three, and Haleigh Archer and Cheyenne Gruben had two points each.
“They’re awfully good,” Collins said of the Cougars.
“One of the biggest things going for them is their athleticism. Plus, they’ve got a group which has just bene playing together for so long. They play very good man defense and they also do a good job attacking the basket.”
After Tuesday night’s battle, both coaches said they wouldn’t mind seeing each other one more time this season. That would mean they both had reached the regional finals