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home : sports : sports Tuesday, June 28, 2016

1/26/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Central junior Gretchen Henningsen attempts a long jumper during the first half of the Sabers’ game with West Delaware, Friday night. Henningsen scored the final four points of the game between the Sabers and the Hawks with all of them coming from the free throw line as Central prevailed 49-47.
Saber sophomore Miranda Meland lets go of a jumper during the second half of Central’s 49-47 win over West Delaware. Meland led the Sabers with 16 points during the game, including a big three-pointer with under two minutes left that tied the game at 43-43. Photos by Ross Eberhart
Sabers score six in final minute to topple Hawks

By Ross Eberhart
Sports editor

One minute is not a very long time.

But try telling that to the Central and West Delaware girls basketball teams, who saw their fortunes flip in the span of 60 seconds during Friday night's WaMaC East clash between the two squads.

With one minute remaining in the contest hosted by the Sabers, West Delaware held a four-point lead and were in the bonus.

By the time the buzzer sounded, though, it was the Sabers, who had their arms raised in victory as a wild final minute of action ended with Central bringing home a 49-47 victory.

"It was a good win, an interesting win," Central head coach Mark Kurtz said of the game. "The effort was great and we shot the ball well."

The Sabers trailed by four entering that final minute, but quickly cut their deficit in half when Amanda Brainerd hit a bucket inside with 51 seconds remaining.

Central was forced to foul and they did just that to send West Delaware to the line.

The move paid off as the Hawks missed the first half of a one-and-one. The scramble, though, created a jump ball situation and possession belonged back to West Delaware.

The Sabers fouled again and the Hawks went back to the line, this time to shoot two. Again, West Delaware missed the first attempt and things got very interesting when the second attempt also bounced off the rim.

Now with a chance to tie, the Sabers worked the ball around until junior Gretchen Henningsen was able to break to the hoop. The guard was fouled during her shot attempt and earned a chance to tie the game at the line.

Henningsen made it 47-46 with the first free throw, but the second missed its mark. Junior Abby Willis, however, beat her West Delaware opponent to the ball and was able to put up another shot.

This second attempt also missed the mark and there was a scramble for the ball. A Hawk player appeared to grab the ball, but she was called for traveling, giving the ball back to Central, who called timeout.

With the chance to win, the Sabers went right back to Henningsen, who again was able to get into the paint. The junior missed on her shot attempt, but the whistle blew, indicating a foul.

Reacting to the call, a West Delaware player spiked the ball and a technical foul was called as well and suddenly Henningsen was at the free throw line all by herself for four-straight attempts.

"Shooting free throws with nobody around you can be a daunting task," Kurtz said. "Gretchen really stepped up."

Henningsen calmly drained her first free throw to tie things up and then hit her second to give the Sabers a one-point lead.

The third attempt found nothing but net too before the fourth and final free throw rimmed out with Central holding a 49-47 lead with just over seven seconds remaining in the game.

The technical foul also gave Central the ball back, so all the Sabers needed to do was inbound the ball and wait for West Delaware to foul.

That did not happen. Instead, the Sabers inbounded the ball and tried to pass the ball around until time ran out.

The result was a wild sequence that ultimately ended with the ball rolling out of bounds off Central with 2.3 seconds remaining.

West Delaware still needed to go the length of the court, though, and a half-court try came up short, giving Central the victory.

"We need to be able to manage the end of the game better," Kurtz said. "We have had two games this year (against Prince of Peace and Clinton) where all we needed to do was wait for them to foul and we ended up giving the ball away. We need a little more work on time and score situations."

The Sabers led 5-3 early thanks to a Willis bucket inside and a Meland three-pointer, but found themselves trailing 15-9 as the first quarter came to a close (Meland scored again with Allison Keitel adding a hoop for the Sabers).

The Hawk lead grew as high as nine early in the second quarter, but Central was able to climb back in the game by outscoring West Delaware 14-8 during the rest of the first half.

Henningsen started an 8-3 Saber surge with a pair of free throws, while Meland added one of her own. Willis added a bucket after West Delaware scored and Meland answered a Hawk hoop with a three-pointer to make it 22-18.

The Hawks, though, came back with a three of their own to push the lead back to seven.

Two free throws by Henningsen and a hoop by Willis got the deficit down to three and that turned out to be the West Delaware lead at halftime as Brittany McNamara answered another Hawk bucket with a shot in the lane just before the buzzer sounded.

Four-straight points inside by Brainerd to start the third quarter made it a tie game, but Central was not able to get over the hump and pull in front during the third quarter as West Delaware led 36-35 as the period came to a close.

Central finally pulled in front for the first time since the first quarter on a baseline jumper by McNamara.

Brainerd added a hoop of her own and the Sabers led by three.

The lead did not last as West Delaware came back with two hoops of its own to go up 40-39.

McNamara tied things up with a free throw only to see the Hawks break the tie with a three-pointer.

Central, though, would not let their visitors off that easy as Meland came back with a three-pointer of her own to tie things at 43.

The Hawks broke the tie with a hoop and then scored again, but West Delaware would not score again as the Sabers made the most of that final minute for the win.

Meland led the Sabers with 16 points during the game, including three three-pointers. Henningsen and Brainerd, meanwhile, had eight points apiece with the former scoring all of her points at the free throw line.

McNamara had seven points and joined Keitel with a team-high three assists, while Willis had six points and grabbed a team-best six rebounds.

Keitel and Hailey Saunders both had two steals in the game with Brainerd blocking a shot.

The Sabers were back on the court less than a day later as they headed south for a non-conference game with 12th-ranked North Scott.

Unfortunately, the Sabers had a tougher time getting their offense going in the game as the hosting Lancers held Central to just seven points through the first three quarters and 15 overall in a 42-15 victory.

Meland had seven of Central's points in the game with Brainerd adding four of her own.

Willis grabbed five rebounds in the game, while Brainerd had a steal and two blocks. Keitel also had a steal with McNamara and Henningsen both recording assists.

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