ROCK FALLS – On Dec. 21, Oregon’s pressure defense was too much for Rock Falls, and the Hawks cruised to a lopsided victory in Oregon.
Saturday afternoon at Tabor Gym, Oregon did not apply much pressure – and narrowly escaped with a 44-42 Big Northern West win on the Rockets’ Senior Day.
“Everybody’s got adrenaline on their Senior Night, so we knew they were going to come out and be really aggressive,” said the Hawks’ Sam Lambrigtsen, who scored a game-high 21 points. “We’ve got big conference championship games coming up, so this is a big win for us.”
Fresh off a 43-point loss to Byron on Thursday, Rock Falls (11-14, 4-6) trailed Oregon much of the first 2½ quarters, but stayed within striking distance. The Hawks thumped the Rockets 64-48 in December.
“We knew we were going to have a battle the whole time,” Oregon coach Kristy Eckardt said. “It came right down to the end, like it usually does when we play here.”
In the third quarter, the Rockets struck, using an 11-0 burst to take a 38-32 lead with just over 2 minutes left in the period.
Aubree Johnson, who notched team highs of nine points and six steals, scored the first five points of the flurry. First, she came up with a steal and took it to the basket. Then she scored off a teammate’s steal and turned it into a three-point play.
“I definitely felt more fired up,” Johnson, a senior, said of Senior Day. “And, my cross country coach was here watching me for the first time, and I wanted to show her that I was good.”
Morgan Mammosser (8 points) gave Rock Falls its first lead since 1-0, her bucket from the right wing making it 34-32 with 3:12 left in the quarter. Jessica Wind added a hoop off an inbounds pass under the basket, and Mammosser drove the lane for a field goal to give the Rockets a six-point lead with 2:13 left in the period.
Oregon (21-5, 9-1) finally ended a nearly 4-minute drought, closing the quarter with a 7-0 burst that included a Bree Tourtillott bucket in the lane, a three-point play on a weaving drive by Lambrigtsen, and two Lambrigtsen free throws. The Hawks led 39-38 heading to the fourth quarter.
Rock Falls took its last lead on two free throws by Jordan Giddings (8 points) that made it 40-39 with 6:10 remaining.
Lambrigtsen hit two free throws at the 4:15 mark, and 5-foot-6 Madeline Sanders scored from down low at the 2:50 mark to put Oregon up 43-40.
Mammosser was fouled and appeared to suffer a head injury, then missed two free throws with 2:35 left. She drove for a bucket to make it 43-42 with 1:06 to play.
Tourtillott hit one of two free throws with 37 seconds left for the last point of the game. Her missed second attempt was rebounded by teammate McKaylee Beeter (9 points on 3 3-pointers), who was fouled, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 36 seconds remaining.
The Rockets’ chance to tie or take the lead was wiped out when Lambrigtsen came up with a steal with 8 seconds left. She was fouled with 2.6 seconds left, but missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Mammosser’s desperation heave at the buzzer was well off the mark.
“When we lost to Byron [69-26 on Thursday], I said ‘Don’t let this one go,’ “ Rock Falls coach Craig Mammosser said. “ ‘Remember how this feels, because you don’t want to be in this situation again.’ We came out with no effort at all Thursday. Today was ultra effort from everybody.”
Star of the game: Sam Lambrigtsen, Oregon, game-high 21 points, 16 in middle two quarters
Key performers: Aubree Johnson, Rock Falls, team-highs 9 points, 6 steals; McKaylee Beeter, Oregon, 9 points on 3 3-pointers; Jordan Giddings and Morgan Mammosser, Rock Falls, 8 points apiece
Up next: Oregon at Byron, 7:15 p.m. Tuesday; Stillman Valley at Rock Falls, 7:15 p.m. Friday