By Dan Pompili
The teams’ records entering Division IV sectional tournament play — Crestview at 16-6 and Mineral Ridge at 2-19 — suggested two programs going in opposite directions.
But that’s why the games are played.
The Rams gave the Rebels all they could handle down to the bitter end. And how bitter it was, as key free throws awarded in the final seconds advanced Crestview with a 45-38 win.
After a one-sided first half favored the Rebels, 24-14, Alyssa Harkins brought the Rams back into the game, and Crestview led 39-31 with 2:40 remaining. Peyton Allen hit a field goal to narrow the gap. Forty seconds later Emma Bailey hit another shot. On their next possession, Bailey dropped a three-point bomb to bring Ridge within one, 39-38, with fifty seconds remaining.
The Rams started to strategically foul. A foul with 22 seconds left put Ashley Harrison at the line, where she hit one and missed the next. Three seconds later Morgan Newbauer split two more.
On the rebound, Ridge coach John Matisi screamed for a timeout that was not called. Instead, another foul put Harrison back at the line. But not before Matisi gave the official an earful and earned a technical foul.
Harrison made all four free throws and one more moments later to ice the win, as the tearful Rams headed to the showers. Although Crestview coach Rick Gates credited the second half inside play of Anna Hardenbrook for keeping the Rebels on top.
“They keyed in on the guards and Anna did the job and stepped up inside,” he said. “They slowed Ashley down but we hung in there and we’re gonna’ battle next week and we get to practice again on Monday.”
Hardenbrook dropped 11 for Crestview and Newbauer added nine. Harrison had seven, five of them free throws. Emma Bailey paced Ridge with 15.
“I didn’t have a lot of problems with the officiating,” Matisi said. “It just would have been nice to have that possession at the end to try to win the game.