LA MONTE — A Kelsy Keele free throw with 1:38 remaining put Sacred Heart ahead for good as the Gremlins beat La Monte 46-43 in a Kaysinger Conference girls basketball game Thursday.
Keele’s free throw completed a Sacred Heart comeback after the Lady Vikings led by five early in the fourth quarter.
“We were getting her the ball and getting her to the free throw line,” said Sacred Heart coach Shawn Bestgen. “I’m proud of the way the kids battled. We were down by five in the fourth. We were down by six in the first quarter and came back. We found a way to finish strong at the end of halves.”
In the final 30 seconds Sacred Heart went to the free throw and missed shots twice, but twice grabbed the offensive rebound to keep La Monte from getting a chance for a game winner. After the second offensive rebound, Gabbi Ebers made a pair of free throws to give Sacred Heart a 46-43 lead and Lauron Tanguay intercepted a pass at mid-court to make sure La Monte never got off a final shot.
“Honor (Kehde) and I definitely stepped up in the second half on defense,” Tanguay said. “I felt like whenever we switched, it definitely helped the team out.”
Tanguay came up big on the offensive end in the second half as well. She hit a 3-pointer to cut the La Monte lead to 39-38. After free throws from Madison Harris and Katie Patrick pushed the Lady Vikings lead back to five points, Tanguay hit another 3-pointer to cut the lead to 43-41.
“She came alive a little bit in that third and fourth quarter,” Bestgen said.
After that 3-pointer, Honor Kehde came away with a steal and a layup to tie the game with 2:13 left. La Monte missed a pair of free throws and a pair of shots from the field on the other end and the Gremlins won it at the free throw line.
Tanguay finished the game with 15 points, all of them from the 3-point arc.
“I was just trying to focus on the shot more, get it up in the air and get my feet straight,” she said. “Coach has been telling me about it’s been a rough start with my threes but I think it’s finally kicking in.”
Erin Warner and Sandra Arroyo each scored eight points to lead the Lady Vikings. Patrick and Vada Demotte each added seven.
“I’ve been telling the girls all along, move the ball around the perimeter, be patient and the posts will eventually get open,” said La Monte coach Manuel Lujan. “Our problem is we still have trouble with eyes on the ball instead of up the floor to see the open post coming across so we can get the quick feeds. By the time we see it, the post is already there and they’re already defended. It’s got to be quick.”
La Monte led 9-7 after one quarter and extended that lead to 15-10 midway through the second thanks to a pair of baskets by Warner.
“I’ve been telling the girls all season long that we’ve got to attack defensively,” Lujan said. “We put in a 2-3 matchup zone and trap immediately off the wings.”
Sacred Heart closed the gap when Ebers scored seven points in just over a minute. Her 3-pointer with 1:30 to play in the half tied the game at 15-15. After a La Monte free throw, Ebers drove the lane for a basket and a Gremlins lead. She finished off the half with a jumper to make it 19-16. Ebers had 12 points in the second quarter alone and finished with 20.
“I started penetrating their match-up zone more so I could get my teammates open,” she said. “I knew once I drove it, they would collapse on me so I got a lot of good looks off of that.”
Cathy Butts opened the third quarter with a 3-point play to tie the game at 19-19 but a pair of Tanguay 3-pointers put Sacred Heart back in the lead.
La Monte answered by working the ball inside, getting a basket in the paint from Harris and a putback from Arroyo followed by baskets from Patrick and Warner to make it 32-27 La Monte.
An Ebers drive cut the lead to three at the end of the third, but Butts responded with a layup to open the fourth and make it 38-33 Lady Vikings.
Sacred Heart (4-5, 1-0 Kaysinger) will visit Cole Camp on Monday.
La Monte (7-3, 1-2 Kaysinger) will host Wentworth Military Academy at 5:30 p.m. today.
“It’s going to take a little time but once they buy into it completely, I think this game is going to help them believe in themselves,” Lujan said.