POLO – The comeback wasn't as big, but the outcome was much sweeter for the Prophetstown Prophets.
Riley Walters' layup with less than one second left sent the Prophets past the Oregon Hawks 48-47 at the Polo tournament Monday night. The one-point win avenged Prophetstown's 47-46 loss to the Hawks at the Oregon tournament on Nov.17, a game that saw a Prophets' rally from a 14-point deficit after three quarters but come up one point short.
"We didn't want that to happen again," said Walters, who had game-high totals of 23 points and eight rebounds. "It's nice to make that one last play to win it, and even things up a little bit."
As both of these teams have made a habit of doing so far this year, they went down to the wire again. Walters hit back-to-back buckets in the lane for a 44-43 Prophetstown lead with 3:57 to play, and the Prophets (11-1) burned some clock after a pair of missed free throws by the Hawks (6-3).
But Sam Lambrigtsen (6 points, 2 steals) hit a pair of free throws with 1:38 to play to give Oregon a 45-44 lead, then she nabbed a steal 20 seconds later. The Hawks extended the lead to 47-44 after two free throws by Emy Wright (11 points, 4 steals, 2 assists) with 39.6 seconds remaining.
But Oregon couldn't hold it. Prophetstown senior guard Cassie Reiley (9 points, 3 steals, 2 assists) drew a foul with 30.7 seconds left and hit both free throws, then Wright missed the front end of a one-and-one with 20 seconds left. Another Oregon foul 6 seconds later put Corrie Reiley (11 points, 3 steals) on the line; she missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Karlie Stafford grabbed the offensive rebound to set up one final, frantic Prophets possession.
"I almost never use my timeouts, but I had used all of them," Prophetstown coach Don Robinson said. "I was wondering if I was going to be kicking myself for that, especially after our play 'Prophet' broke down out there.
"Luckily, my two seniors stepped up and made a really veteran play to win the game for us. Cassie is at her best when she gets into the lane and draws the defense to her, and Riley's deceptively strong and can finish down low."
With time winding down, Cassie Reiley drove around the top of the key and got into the lane. As the Oregon defense collapsed around her, she spied Walters on the right block. She bounced a pass to her fellow fourth-year varsity starter, who converted a layup and was fouled as the final buzzer sounded; since the Prophets had the lead, Riley didn't end up shooting the free throw.
"We had so many chances, and we finally got one to work out for us," Walter said. "That last play, we were pretty much looking for anything that would get us an open shot. We didn't even know what play we were running; I had no clue Cassie would be able to get a pass to me.
"But there was the ball, passed right to my hands. I knew we were running out of time and I just had to attack the basket. I'm just so glad it went in."
Attacking the basket was the key to the Prophets' win. After Oregon controlled things for most of the first half, Prophetstown stopped settling for perimeter jumpers and started feeding Walters in the high post. The senior forward scored 17 of her 23 points after halftime, hitting seven of her 10 shots.
"We had three starters out for a lot of the game in foul trouble, and they just kept working it into the post and going up strong," said Oregon junior McKaylee Beeter, who scored all 11 of her points in the first half. "We had a lot of girls step up off the bench, but at the end, our fundamentals broke down, we played in too much of a rush and we just didn't finish."
The game was close throughout. Oregon's biggest lead was 11-4 midway through the first quarter, and Prophetstown's largest margin was three points (20-17) midway through the second quarter after a tiebreaking 3-pointer from Clare Kramer (5 point, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) over the outstretched hand of Bree Tourtillott (5 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block).
The Hawks led 37-32 heading into the fourth quarter, but a 3 from Cassie Reilly and a coast-to-coast basket by Corrie Reiley after a steal tied the game with 7:19 to play. Oregon re-took the lead after baskets by Wright and Lambrigtsen, but Walters' three-point play cut the deficit to 41-40 with 5:16 left. A post bucket by Devyn Absher (6 points) put Oregon ahead 43-40 and set up the frantic final 4 minutes.
"Give tons of credit to Prophetstown; we knew they were going to give us a battle," Oregon coach Kristy Eckardt said. "We made some stupid mistakes – I mean, we've got a three-point lead and we want to foul and stop the clock and put them at the line – and just had a mental collapse at the end.
"We did a lot of good things, got a lot of good contributions from a lot of different players, and all the girls played their hearts out … but it came down to the end, and they made plays and we made some bad decisions."
Prophetstown 48, Oregon 47
Star of the game: Riley Walters, P'town, 23 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, winning basket as time expired
Key performers: Corrie Reiley, P'town, 11 points, 3 steals; Cassie Reiley, P'town, 9 points, 2 assists, 2 steals; McKaylee Beeter, Oregon, 11 points, 3 rebounds; Emy Wright, Oregon, 11 points. 4 steals, 2 assists
Up next: Polo Tournament – Prophetstown vs. Milledgeville, 6:15 p.m. today; Oregon vs. Forreston, 6:15 p.m. Wednesday