The small things matter late in close games.
Sacred Heart made a key steal late and sank 7 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night to upset second-seeded Stover 32-31 in the semifinal round of the W-K Kaysinger Conference girls basketball tournament.
The sixth-seeded Gremlins (7-14) will face top-seeded Windsor in the championship game at 8 p.m. Friday at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center. Stover (12-9) will meet Tipton in the third-place game at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
The Lady Bulldogs took a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Mady Smith. She scored eight-straight points from the end of the third quarter into the fourth. She made a 3-pointer to put the Lady Bulldogs up 22-21. She hit two free throws with 1.3 seconds remaining to give Stover a 24-21 lead heading into the fourth.
The score was tied or Stover held a slim lead for most of the fourth quarter.
However, Gabbi Ebers made a free throw with 1:44 to play to slice Stover’s lead to 29-27.
Claudia Cox then made a steal in the backcourt and got fouled with 1:06 to play. She made both free throws to tie the score at 29.
“I think a big momentum switch when we were down by two was when Claudia Cox got the steal in the backcourt,” Sacred Heart coach Shawn Bestgen said.
Ebers drove inside, drew a foul and made two free throws with 49.5 seconds left to give Sacred Heart at 31-29 lead.
Amy Schroder made a driving layup with 30 seconds left to tie the score at 31.
“Honor Kehde played great in the fourth quarter, containing (Schroder),” Bestgen said. “We had everything we wanted on that inbounds play. (Schroder) made a nice left-handed move, got around her and got the shot she wanted.”
Ebers went back to the free-throw line seconds later and made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Gremlins a one-point lead.
Schroder attempted an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer but it didn’t fall.
Stover held the game’s biggest lead, 10-4 in the second quarter, but the Gremlins rallied to take the lead briefly and went into halftime trailing 15-12.
Bestgen credited the Lady Bulldogs’ defense.
“They didn’t give us anything. We had to earn almost all of it,” Bestgen said.
THIRD-PLACE GAME: Tipton vs. Stover
6:30 p.m. Friday at Davis Center
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Windsor vs. Sacred Heart
8 p.m. Friday at Davis Center