Ladies come from behind to win

By: 
Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

Photo by Nicole McFarland/NLJ

Hunter McFarland attempts the inbound block against the Buffalo Lady Bison during a close game last week. 

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Editor

 

The Dogie Dome was rocking for both of the Lady Dogies’ contests last week. Thursday was the rematch against the second ranked Lady Bearcats from Douglas, and on Saturday it was the Buffalo Lady Bison. Both of these games were great for head coach Chad Ostenson’s team to have as they prepare for the 3A East Regional tournament this weekend.

Against the Lady ‘Cats, Newcastle started out with the lead and aside from a 6-6 tie in the first quarter, never relinquished it. Like the first time they played, the Lady Dogies held as much as a 12-point lead over Douglas, but in the end, came away with a 58-46 victory which is 3 points more than their margin of victory a few weeks ago.

Both teams had to adjust to some tight officiating in the contest as the refs blew the whistle early and often. Newcastle succeeded in doing so more quickly than Douglas as their top two players, Lauren and Alli Olson, found themselves with two quick fouls early in the first quarter. 

Lauren would pick up her third on a reach-in with about a minute off the clock in the second quarter which landed her on the bench for the remainder of the half.

“We made the adjustment fairly quickly, and I was really tickled that you could see our kids being juniors and adjusting where they had a few younger kids who it took a little longer,” Ostenson began. “We also suffered some foul trouble with Tiernan [Stanton] and Jayde [Harrington], but we were able to adjust to that as well.”

Newcastle jumped out to an early lead after which Douglas tied it up, but the Lady Dogies ended their first quarter scoring slump and finished it off with the 10-8 lead. With Lauren on the bench, Ostenson’s crew extended their lead to 26-17 at the end of the half.

“They were calling things pretty close, and the girls were able to capitalize on their opportunities in the first half,” Ostenson said. “Then we stayed steady and just kept to business when they made their run in the third quarter.”

And run the Lady ‘Cats did when they emerged for second half action. Lauren Olson was back on the court and she quickly made up for lost time as she led her team on an 18-12 run against the Lady Dogies in the third quarter to draw within 3 by the time it came to a close. Fortunately, the Lady Dogies weathered that run and went on one of their own in the final frame of play.

Stanton fouled out at the end of the third quarter and Harrington at the start of the fourth, so it was up to the smaller players to finish it out — and they stepped up to that challenge.

“When Tiernan fouled out, Jayde was the next man up and she did well. Then when she fouled out, Bailey [Benshoof] came in and did a great job,” Jaylen Ostenson said. “Just having those pieces is going to make our team go where we want to go.”

In the fourth quarter there was never a doubt as to which team would prevail as Newcastle kept a firm grip on the game and turned the tables on Douglas, out-scoring them 18-13 to take the win.

Ostenson finished the night leading all scorers with 26 points, and MacKenzie Conzelman was next with 12. She was closely followed by Hunter McFarland with 10 while Shelby Tidyman added 8 points to her team’s total. 

Down 7 points with 1:21 to play may seem daunting, but the Lady Dogies took it all in stride to rally to a 1-point win over the Lady Bison in their final regular season game of the season on Saturday.

“I didn’t expect much less because they are a good team,” admitted Ostenson. “But, there are so many things that we did right against Buffalo. The mental part, the thinking part, the situational basketball, all came together for us.”

The Lady Bison have flown under the radar for much of the season, but Ostenson knew they would be a team who could give his squad some problems — and they did.

“Buffalo’s man-to-man defense is the best we’ve played against all year,” said Jaylen Ostenson. “Their help defense is so good so it makes it tough for us to get into an offensive rhythm. They are a scary team because they have a lot of kids who can score and their defense is great.”

It was a defensive battle on both sides of the court in the first half with Newcastle carrying a slim 1-point lead at the end of the first quarter and again at the end of the half as the Lady Dogies headed to the locker room with the 18-17 advantage.

The Lady Bison took the advantage in the third quarter, out-scoring Newcastle to finish up ahead 34-33 by the time the fourth quarter got underway. 

From there the two teams traded blows but it would be in the final minutes of the game that things took a turn.

With 1:50 to play, Buffalo was able to extend their lead to 7 over Ostenson’s crew, but it was then that the Lady Dogies went to work.

“None of us were really worked up or worried,” Jaylen said. “But we knew we had to find a way to score and we knew that we had to play great defense.”

With just 1:21 to go in the game, Buffalo scored their last point of the night and still held that 7-point lead. Ostenson hit one free-throw shortly after to get within 6 points and then, with 46 seconds on the clock, Conzelman hit only her second 3 of the night but it was a big one as it brought her team to within 3. 

“I think that after Mack hit that 3 was when we really knew we could do it,” Jaylen said. “From there it was just a matter of getting it done.”

Next, it was a down-court pass from Ostenson to Conzelman who finished with a layup but couldn’t hit her and-one opportunity so the Lady Dogies were down one with 39 seconds remaining. 

During the last two minutes, Newcastle had also sent the Lady Bison to the free-throw line several times in order to regain possession of the ball. 

The next sequence of events guaranteed the win for Newcastle. Buffalo missed every time they stepped to the charity stripe, which added up to 10 missed points. Ostenson ended up with the ball on the floor in a scramble and called the team’s last timeout with 31 seconds on the clock to save possession of the ball, and Tidyman calmly hit her only two free-throw attempts of the night to give her team a 1-point lead with 22 seconds left. 

And the Lady Dogies had to get it all done without time-outs or without coaching from the sidelines because the Dome was too loud for players to hear anything their coach had to say.

“Chad preps us well for these late-game situations so I don’t think any of us were really too worked up about it,” said Conzelman, smiling. “We had the crowd going and that helped a lot and we knew who we needed to foul because we had a scouting report on them.”

With 1.5 seconds to play, Jaylen was fouled and sent to the free-throw line with her team still up by 1.

“I missed my first one, and then I had to think about what to do next,” Jaylen explained. “I looked at the time left and at the score and thought that it wouldn’t be bad to miss the second one so that they didn’t have a dead clock to put together a play.”

Ostenson did just that and the Lady Dogies took the 46-45 victory over the Lady Bison.

Ostenson led her team with 22 points, Conzelman was next with 9 and Tidyman was close behind with 7. Stanton ended up with 6 while McFarland rounded out scoring with 2 points.  

The final two battles of the regular season were just what the Lady Dogies needed as they prepare for the 3A East Regional Tournament this weekend in Burns. As the No. 1 seed from the Northeast Quadrant, Newcastle will tip off against the Lady Outlaws of Rawlins on Thursday at 10:30. A win will advance them to a semi-final match-up against the winner of the Buffalo/Burns opening game at 3 on Friday, while a loss would pit them against the loser of that contest. 

“Now we start zero and zero,” said coach Ostenson. “Regionals is a whole different beast so we will not overlook anyone.”

“Yes we are the No. 1 seed so we have the No. 4 seed going in, but anything can happen at regionals,” added Jaylen. “We just want to go out and do what we do every single day and hopefully things will take care of themselves.”

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