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Hole’s free throws send Lady Stars home winners

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Arcadia — It is tough to win basketball games on the road.

So when the Western Boone Lady Stars were able to do it in thrilling fashion on Tuesday night at Hamilton Heights, it made it even sweeter than normal. Olivia Hole’s free throws with no time on the clock in overtime sent Western Boone away with a 38-37 win over Hamilton Heights.

“This was a big, big win for us,” Western Boone head coach Rich Schelsky said. “Anytime you can win on the road against a quality team it is great, but this team has been a thorn in our side. Since we started playing them eight years ago, we had only beaten them once. This was a great win for the girls.”

It was just the third time this year the Huskies lost on their home court.

The Stars have played above .500 this year away from home and have won five of their last seven on road or neutral courts.

“It takes toughness to win on the road,” Schelsky said. “That is something we have greatly improved on as this year has gone on. We are playing a lot better defensively and that will give you a chance to win. We unofficially shot 22 percent today and found a way to win because of our defense.”

The game was close throughout.

Western Boone led 9-4 after a quarter and 18-10 at the half. The Huskies turned it on in the third quarter, only allow two Star points as they built a 23-20 lead.

The two teams battled back-and-forth in the fourth quarter, and the game ultimately went to overtime tied at 31.

“We had a feeling coming in that it was going to be a close game,” Schelsky said. “You have to tip your hat to Hamilton Heights too. They defended us really well and really made it tough on us in the half-court. We had to earn this win. We have had a lot of close games this year and are pretty battle tested. It is starting to pay off.”

Trailing 35-33 in the final minute of overtime, Western Boone was able to take a 36-35 lead with 20 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Alayna Raby.

Raby is averaging just over two points a game and had been 0-of-3 before that shot, but it was obviously a big one.

“That was huge for Alayna,” Schelsky said. “We are looking for a little more from her these last couple of games. She has been a really good defender for us, but we want her to look for her shot a little more. That was a huge shot for her and can only help her confidence. At this point of the year, every one has scouted you and are going to try and take away you big scorers, so you need other people to step up.”

The Huskies were able to retake the lead with 10.1 seconds left when Bayleigh Runner got to the line and hit two free throws.

Western Boone was able to push the ball up and missed several close shots before the ball found itself in Hole’s hands near the free-throw line as the clock ticked down. She was fouled as she was shot and then hit the free throws to win the game.

It was the second time this year that Hole won a game at the line.

“She is a senior who is very experienced,” Schelsky said. “She has played a lot of varsity basketball and knows her role. As she has grown up, she has always been a shooter and a shooter has to have confidence. She is very confident when she shoots the ball and is very comfortable with the pressure on.”

Hole finished with a game-high 14 points, while Madison Jones added 13.

Western Boone has two more tough road games this week — Friday at Danville and Saturday at Greencastle — so winning Tuesday to kick off the week was important, Schelsky said.

“Two years ago we made this trip and lost to Heights, then gotten hammered against Danville and had to gut out a win at Greencastle,” Schelsky said. “We know this week is a challenge, and we didn’t want to start it off with a loss. Winning Tuesday gives you a big boost heading into the next one. We are going into Danville feeling good about our chances to win. We came into this year feeling like we were one of the better teams in the conference, and now we have a chance to prove it.”

Danville is 11-9 on the year, and undefeated in Sagamore Conference play.

Tip is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday.

“They have a good mix of inside and outside players,” Schelsky said. “We are going to have to find their shooters, because they can stroke it if you let them have good looks. They are probably the best inside-out team we have played since LCC and we have to make sure we stick to our assignments.”

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