Springfield, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- Trailing 29-19 with almost three minutes left in the third quarter, Olathe East head coach Clint Evans knew his team needed to turn up the defensive pressure.
“We talked about that being the big thing—shutting them down in the half-court,” he said.
For the final 19 minutes of the game, the Lady Hawks gave up just two field goals and 13 points as they outlasted the Kickapoo Lady Chiefs 47-42 in double overtime.
With the win, Olathe East will meet Crane in the Stephanie Phillips Classic championship on Saturday at 5 p.m. Kickapoo will face Nixa in the third-place game scheduled to tip at 3:30 p.m.
After taking a 14-8 lead after the first quarter, Olathe East was hampered by foul trouble in the second.
“Kickapoo changed up what they did defensively a couple times,” said Evans. “Our girls were hacking the crap out of some of their big kids. We needed to settle down and not get out of position.”
The foul problems, caused by a disruptive Lady Chiefs defense, enabled Kickapoo to hold Olathe East without a field goal in the second quarter. Kickapoo outscored the Lady Hawks 14-2 in the second, taking a 22-16 lead into the half.
“The foul trouble hurt a lot because two of the kids that went out, Amy Waechter and Molly Taitt, are two that played a lot of varsity minutes last year,” said Evans. “They know how to settle us down. When they went out, that really took us out of our rhythm.”
In the third quarter, Kickapoo continued to build on their lead. After a Lauren Kirk layup for Olathe East cut the Kickapoo lead to four, the Lady Chiefs scored seven of the next eight points, increasing their lead to 29-19 with 2:45 left in the quarter on a Laura Vierkant 3-pointer.
That’s when Olathe turned up the defense.
The Lady Hawks outscored Kickapoo 10-4 the rest of the third, cutting it to a 32-29 Lady Chiefs lead through three quarters.
In the fourth, after surrendering a layup to Kickapoo’s Natalie Closser, the Lady Hawks went on a 9-1 run, taking the lead on a three by Waechter late in the period. Kickapoo tied the game on a pair of Hannah Schumacher free-throws, sending the game to overtime.
In the first overtime, Kickapoo went ahead 40-38 on free-throw makes by Jordan Danzer and Laura Vierkant. But a layup by Cameron Kincaid of Olathe East tied the game 40-40 with 13 seconds left. Kickapoo had the ball for the final possession, but Schumacher had her layup blocked as the buzzer sounded.
A steal and layup by Regan Stone with three minutes left in the second overtime put Olathe East ahead to stay.
“I’m real excited for the girls,” said Evans. “We knew coming down here that there were a lot of good teams in this tournament. I can’t say that we expected to play in the championship, but the girls really battled. We’re going to try to win it, but it’s kind of the icing on the cake at this point.”
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