Marengo upsets Burlington Central in 3A regional final
Freshman Elana Wells gave the Burlington Central girls basketball team new life but it was only a reprieve.
Wells banked in a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left in regulation to tie No. 5 Marengo (22-8), but the hosts made 6 of 8 overtime free throws to finalize a 46-44 upset of top subsectional seed Burlington Central (27-4).
The Indians won their first regional title since 2005 and notched their first win against rival Central since 2011-12 by rallying from a 10-point deficit.
"It's very disappointing," Burlington Central coach Mark Smith said. "I thought we played a little tight. We weren't our normal selves. We had a good lead at halftime and then, credit to them, they hit some shots and did a nice job. They finished the game and we didn't."
Central led 24-14 at halftime and still held a 29-19 advantage with 6:19 left in the third quarter following a basket in the paint by sophomore Reili Gardner.
The Indians then embarked on a 16-3 run to take the lead. Freshman Jennifer Heinberg's 3-pointer with 7:07 left in the game staked them to a 35-32 advantage.
The Rockets regained a 2-point cushion on an inside bucket from sophomore Kathryn Schmidt and a free throw by sophomore Zoey Kollhoff, but Heinberg struck again. This time she rattled in a 3-pointer with 52 seconds left to give her team a 38-37 lead.
"We knew we wanted it more than them and we were going to get it," Heinberg said. "We put all our effort out there. We had nothing to lose."
Following a Central miss, Marengo's Marissa Knobloch was fouled and made 2 free throws to make it a 3-point game with 9.1 seconds left.
That set the stage for Wells, who was guarded tightly on the perimeter in front of her own bench. With time running out she launched a contested shot that banked in to tie the game.
"I knew I had to make a big-time shot," Wells said. "I knew we needed another chance and that's all I could do."
The Rockets initially grabbed the overtime lead via an inside bucket from Schmidt, who matched Wells with 14 points. It proved to be the only field goal in the extra session by either team.
Marengo led 44-42 when Wells drove to the basket, but her shot wouldn't fall and Marengo's Hannah Ritter grabbed the defensive rebound. She passed to Knobloch, who was fouled hard by the Rockets. The officials called it an intentional. Knobloch sank both free throws for a 4-point lead but the Rockets ended up with one more chance.
Schmidt was fouled attempting a 3-pointer with .5 seconds left. She made the first 2 free throws and missed the third purposefully in hopes of a tip-in rebound, but the ball caromed into a crowd and time expired on Central's season.
"We did a lot things uncharacteristic of us, but the credit has got to go to them," Smith said. "They played their hearts out, Marengo. They got offensive rebounds when we needed boards and stuff like that. We just didn't get the job done. It's disappointing for sure."