OSGOOD — It was a night of comebacks that came up just short Tuesday in the opening round of the Jac-Cen-Del Sectional.
First, Hauser battled back from a late 10-point deficit to within one and had a 3-pointer to tie in the closing seconds that wouldn’t go down in a 56-52 loss to host Jac-Cen-Del.
Then, South Decatur, trailing by 17 to begin the fourth quarter, came within a point with 2:20 remaining and had a chance to take the lead before Oldenburg Academy pulled away for a 66-57 victory.
Jac-Cen-Del moves on to play Madison Shawe, while Oldenburg will face Rising Sun in Friday’s semifinals.
“I credit the girls for not quitting,” Hauser coach Scott Seiple said. “I think early in the year when we got down, we tended to go away, but tonight kind of showed that we are learning. We played with a little more heart late, and it did give us a chance to win, but taking second- and third-quarter stretches off there put us down to be in a position to have to come back.”
The Jets (6-14) jumped out to a 14-2 lead, but the Eagles (10-11) answered with a 17-1 run to take a 19-15 advantage. Hauser came back to tie the game twice in the third quarter and took a 39-37 lead on a Leslie Sims three-point play to open the fourth quarter. But Jac-Cen-Del went on a 14-2 run to take a 51-41 lead with three minutes left.
“I thought we started with good energy defensively,” Seiple said. “We made some buckets early. It was the exact start that we wanted, but it kind of seems to be a theme for us this season — we kind of go through a lull there in the second quarter, and that’s what happened tonight. It takes four full quarters to get a ‘W,’ and unfortunately, the second quarter and a little bit of the third quarter, we went through a lull.”
The Jets cut the lead to 53-52 on a 3-pointer by Bree Lange with 13 seconds remaining. The Eagles’ Abby Wagner made two free throws with seven seconds left, and Sims had a good look at a 3-pointer from the top of the key that just missed. Jac-Cen-Del’s Jenna Hughes rebounded and made the clinching free throw with eight-tenths of a second remaining.
Sims led Hauser with 11 points. Ellie Trotter added 10 points and eight rebounds to lead the Jets to a 29-28 advantage on the boards.
It was a similar story for South Decatur (6-15) in the nightcap, only to a greater extent. Oldenburg (11-10) led 45-28 after three quarters when the Cougars went to work. They scored the first 12 points of the final period and pulled to within 48-46 on a Julia Miller three-point play with 4:35 still remaining.
South Decatur later cut it to 54-53 on a 3-pointer by Megan Niese with 2:20 left. But then Oldenburg’s Ella Lamping scored, Kirsten Ricke came up with back-to-back steals and layups and Lamping hit two free throws to push the lead back to nine with less than a minute remaining.
“I think we just waited a little bit too late to play ball, to play our game, and that’s been our curse,” South Decatur coach Amy Macy said. “My girls didn’t give up. I couldn’t ask for more. We could have been down 17 and just gave up, but they played hard.”
Niese led the Cougars with 27 points, while Samantha Miller added 11. Julia Miller grabbed 11 rebounds to lead South Decatur to a 37-34 advantage on the boards.
“We could have played with them the entire game,” Macy said. “Like I told the girls, we had to find some kind of spark. As a team, we need to learn how to not beat ourselves, and that’s what we did.”