Comeback not enough for Warriorettes by Stacy Huber "Do you believe in miracles?" said a disappointed half-time Wakonda fan while ordering his popcorn at Tuesday's 4B Regional Championship game.
At first, the rematch of last year's region where the Lady Bulldogs massacred the Warriorettes by 41 points seemed evident. The green side of the Hurley gym was silent as the defending two-time state champs were once again showing their domination of the Wakonda Warriorettes. But, a miracle almost did happen as the Warriorettes would not give up that easily.
The Warriorettes came out shaky, to say the least. After five travel calls and allowing the Lady Bulldogs to go on a 20 to 3 scoring run, it seemed as if the $5 gate fee was too much to pay for a show like this. Just then, the Warriorettes began to score a three, then a two, and then a couple of freethrows. Yet, the second quarter still belonged to Baltic and one of their all-state guards, Jenny Kruthoff with 9 points off fast-break layups. The score at half time was a devastating 13-27 for the district 8B champions from Wakonda.
Could a miracle happen? Could the smaller, outplayed Warriorettes come back from such an ugly first half of play? The answer was "yes."
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Senior Chelsa Bohlmann, the smallest player on the floor, started the miracle with a steal and a bucket. Then classmate Lindsay Nelson followed with a 3-pointer. Then, Bohlmann stole it again. This time, senior center Nikki Johnston turned it into 2 points. The startled Lady Bulldogs brought it down the court again only to have Anderson rip it away one more time and go coast to coast for another bucket.
Baltic's legendary coach Sittig called timeout in hopes of stopping the momentum, but the Warriorettes kept on rolling. He called another timeout and finally, the next possession the Bulldogs scored. But since that 20-3 deficit, Wakonda outscored Baltic 33-14 and now found themselves going into the fourth quarter with the lead, 36-34.
The disgruntled half-time Wakonda fan was now choking on his popcorn and saying, "I do believe in miracles."
The final quarter was a real game. Baltic would score then Wakonda would score. It went back and forth. The seven seniors on the floor were playing for their lives. This could be their last game.
Hustle plays and just plain good basketball, the way post-season should be, was on display for the paying fans who now knew they were getting their money's worth. At the 1:28 mark, the score was tied 42-42. This game of ups and downs would be decided by freethrows. Baltic hit four big ones to extinguish the Wakonda miracle. The green team had five chances in their last two possessions, but the ball just wouldn't fall in. The game ended, 46-42, with Baltic going to the state tournament once again.
Wakonda was led in scoring by Nikki Johnston with 14 points, 10 points were freethrows. Chelsa Bohlmann followed with 11 and Lindsay Nelson added 9 in the losing effort. Kim Henriksen and Ashley Anderson both put in 4 points.
For the Baltic Bulldogs (21-1), Jenny Krutoff scored 20; Amanda Brack, 12; and Alyssa Schultz,6. Laura Fosland and Michelle Krutoff both added 4.
Johnston led the Warriorettes in rebounding with 10. Henriksen finished with eight Anderson with seven, and Bohlmann pulled down five. Anderson had four steals and Bohlmann with three. Nelson dished out four assists and Johnston blocked five shots. The Warriorettes turned the ball over 22 times and shot a cool 30 percent field goal and 67 percent for freethrows.
Wakonda Warriorettes finish their season with a 14-8 overall record. They will lose four seniors to graduation: Chelsa Bohlmann, Kim Henriksen, Nikki Johnston, and Lindsay Nelson.
"The effort put forth by these girls and their desire to come back will always remain my proudest moment. We may not have realized our dream of going to the state tournament, but the character they showed and the will to never give up will prove valuable to their future; this is the essence of competing," said coach Stacy Huber.