MARSHALL - Yellow Medicine East senior Emily Baker has blocked over 30 shots this basketball season, but none were as timely as the one she recorded in the final seconds of the Section 3AA-North game against Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Saturday night.
The third-seeded Sting, led by a veteran core of eight seniors, came into the contest with a noticeable height advantage over the sixth-seeded Panthers. Though for most of the game, TMB managed to neutralize the situation with its intense defensive pressure.
But when Panther junior Jenna Stoneberg threatened to send the game into overtime after grabbing an offensive rebound with one second remaining, Baker, at 6-foot, used her height advantage to stuff the shot, giving the Sting a 42-40 victory on their homecourt in Granite Falls.
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Yellow Medicine East’s Kylie Jans (23) shoots from the outside as Tracy-Milroy-Balaton’s Ashley Daniels defends during Saturday’s Section 3AA-North playoff game in?Granite Falls. Jans finished with six points in the No. 3-seeded Sting’s 42-40 victory.
"That block was huge," YME head coach Scott Jans said.
Baker hauled down a game-high nine rebounds to go with her three blocks and four points. Senior Angie Scheffler led the Sting with 18 points, shooting 6 of 10 from the floor and 6-for-8 from the free-throw line in addition to grabbing five boards and picking up three steals.
"I was so scared the whole game," Scheffler said. "It was more nerve-wracking than any other game. Our shots were not falling at all, but we stayed defensively tough and kind of shot our way out of it."
TMB made 16 of 44 shots from the floor, for 36 percent, though the usually hot perimeter-shooting team was only 3 of 11 from behind the arc. YME connected on 13 of 41 shots, for 29 percent, but made up for it by getting to the free-throw line, where the team made more shots than the Panthers attempted.
YME opened the game with a 5-0 run before Stoneberg put the Panthers on the board with an 8-foot jumper at the 14-minute, 35-second mark. But after Sammie Gervais added a shot from inside for TMB, the Sting pushed their lead to 13-4 on a rebound putback from Scheffler.
The Panthers came out firing after a timeout taken by head coach Katie Gervais. Junior Kelli Soupir got things rolling with a three-pointer from the top of the key, on an assist from freshman Cassie Hook. A minute later, with 9:09 remaining, senior Kate Johnston drilled a shot from behind the arc on the right wing, forcing a YME timeout.
TMB took a 14-13 lead when senior Tiffani Karbo scored with 3:07 left. Johnston added a basket in the final minute of the first half to give the Panthers a 16-13 halftime advantage. Johnston finished the night with a team-high 13 points and also grabbed five boards, while Karbo added 10 points.
"We got off to a nice start, but they made a nice adjustment," Jans said. "They started playing physical inside. And that surprised me because we've had a lot of physical games this year and have experience with that, but we were kind of timid and it showed. We didn't score for 12 minutes. They played outstanding defense on us."
Despite picking up her third foul 40 seconds into the second half, Scheffler went to work, contributing two baskets and a pair of free throws to give YME a 19-18 lead with 15:27 remaining.
After TMB regained the lead with a Karbo basket and free throw, both teams exchanged leads back and forth until Baker nailed a turnaround jumper to give YME a 27-25 edge at the 9:15 mark.
The Sting stepped up its defensive pressure, forcing a number of Panther turnovers. Senior Courtney Hinz, who slid into the point guard position recently after multiple players went down with injuries, converted a steal into a layup and then added a free throw with 3:44 left to give YME its biggest lead of the half, at 37-31.
But TMB wasn't about to hand over the contest and rallied with a 7-0 run. Johnston initiated the surge with a baseline jumper, followed by a steal that she converted into a layup. With 2:28 remaining, Sammie Gervais knocked down a three-pointer from the left wing to give the Panthers a 38-37 advantage.
But again, Scheffler came to life, connecting in the paint and then going 2-for-2 at the line, giving YME a 41-38 lead with 1:07 left.
"We changed the scheme of the game with our half court trap," Jans said. "We thought we'd take the Panthers out of their plan a little bit. They still hit some three-pointers I couldn't believe."
TMB proceeded to work the ball around the perimeter, finally getting the clock stopped at the 18-second mark when Scheffler picked up her fifth foul, sending Johnston to the line. Johnston missed the bonus shot, but got her own rebound and put the Panthers within striking distance at 41-40.
With 10 seconds remaining, Kylie Jans went 1 of 2 at the line for YME. Johnston quickly brought the ball up the court for TMB and Gervais launched a long three-pointer, but it missed its mark, setting up the game-saving block by Baker.
"I was having a heart attack on the bench," Scheffler said. "I couldn't even watch. My head was down the whole time. We made it so far last year, and I think we were really nervous to get over this game. Now, hopefully, we can just pick it up and play our game."
YME (15-9) advances to the subsection semifinals, against second-seeded BOLD - a team they split wins with this season - at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Cassie Hook 0 1-2 1, Kelli Soupir 1 0-0 3, Tiffani Karbo 3 4-6 10, Sammie Gervais 3 0-2 7, Kate Johnston 6 0-1 13, Ashley Daniels 1 0-0 2, Jenna Stoneberg 2 0-0 4, Totals 16 5-11 40. Three-pointers 3 (Johnston, Soupir, Gervais) Rebounds 25 (Stoneberg 8, Johnston 5) Assists 12 (Soupir 5, Hook 4) Steals 7 (Hook 2, Gervais 2, Karbo 2) Blocks 1 (Gervais) Turnovers 16 Total Fouls 20.
Dani Aus 2 0-0 4, Kylie Jans 1 4-6 6, Courtney Hinz 2 6-11 10, Emily Baker 2 0-2 4, Angie Schleffer 6 6-8 18, Totals 13 16-27 42. Three-pointers 0 Rebounds 30 (Baker 9, Hinz 9) Assists 10 (Jans 4, Hinz 3) Steals 10 (Scheffler 3, Baker 2, Jennessa Hoffman 2) Blocks 4 (Baker 3) Turnovers 13 Total Fouls 13.
Halftime Score: TMB 16, YME 13.