Feb 1, 2019
Cloverdale – Western Boone survived a major scare in the semifinals of Sectional 44 Friday night.
Monrovia missed a point-blank put-back attempt at the buzzer, allowing the Lady Stars to escape with a 51-50 win.
Head coach Megan Alexander knew after the game that her team got away with one.
Western Boone led by as many as 11 in the second half and by eight with seven minutes to go.
But a 9-2 run by the Bulldogs brought them within one with 4:29 to go and set-up a frantic finish.
“We just kept telling the girls to focus, and if they wanted it, to go get it,” Alexander said. “We wanted them to take ownership of the situation. We had to quit gambling and reaching on defense. I felt like we were the better team, but we just weren’t doing what we were supposed to be doing.”
Western Boone led by four with 2:01 to play on a basket by Madison Jones, but a 3-pointer by Makayla Swafford with 1:32 to play made it a one-point game.
Kara Brewer missed two free throws with 45 seconds to go, and the Stars fouled on the rebound, giving Monrovia a chance to take its first lead of the game.
They capitalized when Mallory Willett hit two free throws, but WeBo got the lead right back on an inside basket by Jones with 32 seconds to go.
“We wanted to let Madison create chaos and do her thing,” Alexander said. “We wanted her to take it to the basket and then score or get fouled. She did a great job of finishing in traffic.
The Stars appeared to have the game won when Jones blocked Swafford’s 3 on the next possession, and the loose ball went off Monrovia out-of-bounds with 16 seconds left.
But Jones was called for a carry with 12 seconds to go, giving the Bulldogs one last chance.
The Stars initial defense on Swafford was good, forcing her to pick up her dribble with her back to the basket, and shoot a desperation turnaround 3, but the rebound ended up right in the hands of Monrovia’s Grace Whitaker right underneath the basket.
But she missed the lay-up at the buzzer, and the Stars advanced to the title game.
“It’s about surviving and advancing, even if it is by a point,” Alexander said. “We missed 11 lay-ups, had uncharacteristic turnovers and we are blessed to be alive still — and we live for another day.”
The Stars missed 11 of their first 12 shots and trailed 8-4 late in the first quarter.
But they went on a 19-2 run to take a 23-10 lead with 3:13 left in the first half and led by nine at the half.
“We have always been a defensive first team, and when we actually got down and changed up our defense some, we were a little effective,” Alexander said. “But you have to give credit to Monrovia, they just out-played us. (Madison Payne) and (Swafford) had great games, and they would drive and we didn’t help probably and got easy scores.”
Jones led the Stars with 36 points, and Brewer had 11.
But the rest of the team only had four combined.
Alexander said the Stars have to find their scoring balance if they are going to beat the Cloverdale tomorrow.
“For the last two regular season games we sat back and watched Madison, because she was going for 2,000 points,” Alexander said. “If we are going to do anything this tournament, we have to be more balanced. We need our girls to execute on offense again. We can’t just sit back and hope Madison can be spectacular every single night. These rims are nice rims to shoot on, we should be having a hey-day, but we let the nerves get the best of us tonight.”