PONTIAC — Pontiac came to life in the second half, but Fieldcrest rallied late in the fourth quarter to come away with a big 41-38 victory over the Lady Indians here Thursday night during semifinal action of the Class 2A Regional to advance to Friday's 7 p.m. regional championship.
Fieldcrest returns tonight to face El Paso-Gridley — who was a 40-27 winner over Paxton-Buckley-Loda — and will have the difficult task of trying to defeat the Lady Titans for the third time this season. The Lady Knights won the previous two contests by identical 32-29 scores.
Fieldcrest’s defense was outstanding in the first half as they limited the Lady Indians to just nine points, but Pontiac had a big third quarter and entered the final eight minutes of play with a 27-24 lead and building momentum.
The Lady Indians extended that lead to 29-24 when Addison Masching, who had a tooth knocked out in the second half, returned and hit both of her free throw attempts. Shortly after that, the Lady Knights' Hannah Baker stole the ball and went the length of the court for the layup. The moments later after a Lady Indians layup, Ella Goodrich was fouled and then hit both of her foul shots to make it 31-28.
“(Goodrich) is normally a 50% free-throw shooter,” Lady Knights coach Mitch Neally said. “But tonight she stepped to the line and was perfect and we needed everyone of them.”
Then it seemed as if the Lady Indians grabbed just about every offensive rebound and this time it was Lindsey Hunt with another and the put back that gave Pontiac a 33-28 edge. Next time down the floor the Lady Indians got an old fashioned three-point play from Masching that pushed the Pontiac lead to 36-28. From there the Lady Knights slowly started there comeback when Hannah Baker hit a layup and then followed that up with another lay-in off an inbounds play that cut the deficit to 36-32.
“I just kept telling the girls we’re not done,” Hannah Baker said. “I knew we had it in us to come back. We just had to settle down and play our game.”
Pontiac would get another offensive rebound two possessions later and a put-back from Hunt to give the Lady Indians a 38-32 advantage. But then it was Samantha Vazquez’s turn to get the offensive rebound and put back to make it 38-34 — and then next time down the floor — Ashlyn May hit a monster 3-pointer that made it 38-37.
“You just have to keep telling these girls to keep fighting,” Neally said. “Ashlyn is one of the young girls on the team, but there just hits a huge shot to cut the game to a point.”
With a minute to go Goodrich had a 3-pointer that was halfway down and came out, Vazquez grabbed the rebound and her put-back attempt had the same result. With 20 seconds left, Hannah Baker drilled the mid-range jump shot to regain the lead for the Lady Knights 39-38.
“Honestly, I was open and took the shot,” Baker said. “We were down and my teammates got the ball to me. I never hesitated with the open shot and was able to hit it.”
But with 7.4 seconds left on the clock Alyssa Fox was fouled by Baker, but went to the line and missed the front end of her two free throws and then stepped over the line on the second attempt giving the ball back to Fieldcrest. Goodrich was fouled with five seconds left and calmly hit both of her shots to go 7 of 7 from the line for the game and put the Lady Knights ahead 41-38.
“Today we came into the gym before the game and just shot free throws,” Goodrich said. “I just told myself that this is the game that really counts and did the same routine each time and hit all my shots tonight. I was so nervous during those last two, but I wanted to hit them for the seniors. I didn’t want this to be their last game.”
After a Pontiac timeout, the Lady Indians threw the ball the length of the court and eventually got it to Masching, but her 3-point attempt was wide of the mark to secure the Lady Knights' victory.
“That game was exactly what I expected,” Neally said. “We didn’t play yesterday or practice and today we didn’t have school and without playing a game in a week I thought we might come out a little rusty and we did, but what a job these girls did tonight and to finish like they did is amazing.”
Both offenses were slow to start the game, but a bunny shot from Vazquez gave Fieldcrest a 4-2 lead early on. Goodrich picked up two quick fouls in the opening minutes and sat the rest of the half, but the Lady Knights never missed a beat as Hannah Baker dribbled around her defender and got the bucket and the foul for a 6-2 lead after the first quarter.
Hunt opened the second quarter with an offensive board and a long jumper, but Hannah Baker and Vazquez hit four straight free throws for a 12-5 advantage. Mikayla Fisher hit a short jumper for the Lady Indians and then another from the foul line, but another drive for a basket and the foul from Hannah Baker gave Fieldcrest a 16-9 lead at the break.
Carls started the second half off with a short jumper in the lane, but after Masching left for several minutes to tend to her tooth being knocked out, Pontiac went on a big run. It started with a Einhaus 3-pointer and then a drive and layup from Cameron Feddern to cut the Lady Knights lead to 19-14. Feddern then fed Hunt in the post for the layup before Fisher hit a 3-pointer to give the Lady Indians a 21-19 lead. Two free throws from Feddern capped off a 14-1 Pontiac run and give the Lady Indians a 23-19 edge. Goodrich drove to the lane and scored a bucket, but the Lady Knights trailed 27-24 entering the fourth before they rallied.
Fieldcrest was led by Baker with 12 points to go along with nine points each from Vazquez and Goodrich. Pontiac was led by Hunt with 10.
Fieldcrest 41, Pontiac 38
(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)
PONTIAC (38) — Einhaus 1-1 0-1 3, Thoman 1-2 0-0 2, Feddern 2-4 2-2 6, A. Fox 0-4 1-3 1, Barnett 0-4 0-0 0, Masching 2-11 3-3 7, Fisher 4-7 0-2 9, Hunt 5-15 0-1 10. Totals 15-48 6-12 38.
FIELDCREST (41) — Carls 1-9 0-0 2, Park 1-4 0-1 2, H. Baker 5-9 2-3 12, Vasquez 3-6 3-4 9, Z. Baker 0-1 0-0 0, May 2-5 2-2 7, Goodrich 1-7 7-7 9. Totals 13-41 14-17 41.
Pontiac 2 7 18 11 — 38
Fieldcrest 6 10 8 17 — 41
3-point goals — Pontiac 2-16 (Einhaus 1-1, Thoman 0-1, A. Fox 0-1, Barnett 0-3, Masching 0-6, Fisher 1-3, Hunt 0-1); Fieldcrest 1-11 (Carls 0-4, Park 0-1, H. Baker 0-2, May 1-2, Goodrich 0-2). Rebounds — Pontiac 27 (Hunt 9, Fisher 6); Fieldcrest 23 (Carls 7, H. Baker 4, Vasquez 4). Total Fouls (fouled out) — Pontiac 18 (Thoman), Fieldcrest 11 (none)