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|2/9/2013 ||Email this article Print this article |
Sabers start fast but big second half lifts Mustangs
|Central junior Gretchen Henningsen goes up for a lay-up during the second half of the Sabers’ game with Mount Vernon, Tuesday night. Henningsen did all of the Sabers’ scoring in the fourth quarter of the game, knocking down five free throws (she finished the game with eight points). It was the Mustangs, though, who truly owned the second half as Mount Vernon outscored Central 23-12 over the final two quarters to score a 41-31 victory. Photos by Ross Eberhart|
|Saber freshman Hailey Saunders puts up a floater in the lane during the waning seconds of the first half in Central’s game with Mount Vernon. Saunders drained a three-pointer during the third quarter and dished out two assists in the game, but the Mustangs brought home the victory.|
By Ross Eberhart
Taking on a highly motivated Mount Vernon squad, the Central girls basketball team knew the Mustangs would come out swinging.
And they did - just not right away.
It was actually the Sabers who landed the first blow in the game as Central scored the first eight points of Tuesday night's game and built up a 14-7 first quarter lead.
The second half, though, belonged to the Mustangs, who limited the Sabers to just two field goals and outscored Central 23-12 over the final two quarters to bring home a 41-31.
The win allowed Mount Vernon to clinch a share of the WaMaC East title (with Western Dubuque), while also avenging an earlier 10-point loss to the Sabers.
Early on, it looked like Central would continue to have Mount Vernon's number as the Sabers got off to a great start.
Sophomore Miranda Meland put the Sabers in front right away with a three-pointer and then was fouled on Central's very next trip down the floor, making one of two free throws.
The Sabers kept attacking as Amanda Brainerd received a pass down low and put it in for two and followed it up with a wide-open hoop under the basket to make it 8-0 and force a Mount Vernon timeout.
The small break did its job as the Mustangs were able to wrest away the Sabers' momentum with a jumper and then a three-point play to make it 8-5.
Central came right back, though, thanks to Meland, who drained another three-pointer to double the Saber advantage.
Mount Vernon came back with two points, but the final three points of the quarter were scored by Central as Gretchen Henningsen split a pair of free throws and Brainerd scored once more inside to give the Sabers a 14-7 advantage as the first period came to a close.
Another Meland jumper to start the second quarter pushed the lead to nine and it stayed there as Henningsen answered a Mustang hoop with two more free throws.
Central looked to be in great shape as the foul on Henningsen gave Mount Vernon seven team fouls to put the Sabers in the bonus with just under six minutes left in the second quarter.
Sure enough, free throws played a part in the game's next seven points - just not for the Sabers - as Mount Vernon attacked the Central defense and was able to get to the free throw line.
The stretch of free throws allowed the Mustangs to pull within two points of the Sabers and Mount Vernon scored again to tie things up at 18-18 with little time remaining.
Central held for a final shot and freshman Hailey Saunders drove to the hoop and put up a bank shot, the attempt missed the mark, but was corralled by Abby Willis, who was fouled on her put-back try.
The junior made one of her two attempts and Central went into the break with a one-point lead (19-18).
A Mount Vernon basket to start the second half gave the Mustangs their first lead of the game, but Meland kept the time in front short as she nailed her third three-pointer of the game.
Mount Vernon, though, answered with its own three-pointer to kick-start a 7-1 run that made it 27-23 Mustangs.
The Sabers kept things close as Saunders knocked down a three-pointer, but that proved to be Central's final field goal of the second half and Mount Vernon finished off the third quarter with four more points to go up 31-26 entering the fourth.
The Mustangs scored the first five points of the final period as well and the lead was up to 36-26.
Central cut into the lead with three-straight free throws by Henningsen, but Mount Vernon did its own damage at the free throw line and it was 41-29 before two more Henningsen free throws in the final minute created the final 10-point margin.
The Sabers received 27 of their 31 points from three different players - Meland, Henningsen and Brainerd.
Meland led the way for the Sabers with 12 points, including a trio of three-pointers, while Henningsen added eight points (all coming from the free throw line) and Brainerd seven.
Central's other four points came from Saunders, who hit a third quarter three-pointer and Willis, who had the free throw to end the first half.
Willis added a team-high eight rebounds as well for the Sabers, while also leading the team with three assists.
Meland chipped in five rebounds of her own, while Henningsen and Brainerd both had two boards.
Saunders had two assists in the game, while Brittany McNamara had a steal.
The game wrapped up the regular season for the Sabers, who will open up the postseason this Wednesday with a home contest against Davenport North in the quarterfinals of class 4A Region 3.
The Wildcats have yet to win a game this season (they are 0-18), but will definitely be battle-tested after playing a tough MAC schedule.
A victory over Davenport North would send the Sabers to the semifinals against North Scott.
The Lancers and Sabers have already met once this year with North Scott earning a 42-15 victory.
The most likely opponent in the regional finals is Western Dubuque, who tied Mount Vernon for the WaMaC East crown.
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