Girls basketball: Walters, Prophets nearly upend Brunner, defending champs
HANOVER – Riley Walters was having a game to remember.
The Prophetstown senior had the sixth-ranked Prophets in position to knock off top-ranked Aquin. That is until Arizona State-bound Sophie Brunner took over down the stretch, leading the Bulldogs to a 49-44 win Monday night in a River Ridge Sectional semifinal.
The 6-footer came up with a steal and game-sealing free throws, just shy of a year after the Bulldogs ousted the Prophets in a sectional final last February.
Down 46-43, Prophetstown (27-4) coach Don Robinson called the crisscross play. But as sophomore Corrie Reiley tried to hand off to her senior sister, Cassie, Brunner jumped the play and snared the ball. After an intentional foul, she hit three free throws down the stretch to cap a 31-point, 13-rebound, five-steal, four-block, two-steal night.
"I knew they're both great 3-point shooters, so I knew I had to put pressure on them," Brunner said.
"Corrie and I practice that play every day, but not against a defense like theirs," Cassie Reiley said.
Walters led Prophetstown with 21 points and grabbed four rebounds.
While the Prophets hoped to limit the possessions, the game opened with a frenetic pace, the Bulldogs seizing an 11-6 lead.
But Prophetstown came back to take a 13-12 lead late in the first quarter and led 16-14 after one. The Prophets went up 23-16 with 3:49 left in the first half after a three-point play by Cassie Reiley and a pair of free throws from Walters.
Brunner scored two buckets and assisted on another for the last six points of the first half, turning a 26-20 Prophets lead into a 26-26 deadlock at the break.
Perhaps Brunner's most violent block of the night came early in the second half. She blocked Cassie Reiley, sending her to the floor. But, after Reiley bonked her head on the hardwood, Brunner helped her up and made sure she was all right.
Indeed she was, stepping back for a 3-pointer about half a minute later and tying the game at 31.
Walters had two of the Prophets' three-point plays, both off drives and bounce passes by Cassie Reiley, the latter making it 34-33 Aquin with 2 minutes left in the third period.
After a Brunner bucket, Clare Kramer drove and kicked to Karlie Stafford, who swished a 3 from the corner to tie it at 36 entering the fourth.
The score was tied again at 39, and once more at 41 when Walters scored on an inbound play with 2:09 to play. Twice down the stretch, she converted bunnies by getting free down low for Corrie Reiley to find her with the inbounds pass.
But, despite the Prophets' best efforts to take the air out of the ball with their spread offense, the Bulldogs were the better team down the stretch.
Aquin's Katie Stykel hit one of two free throws with 46 seconds left, and Brunner came up with the rebound on the second attempt. Brunner hit two free throws to make it 45-41 with 44 seconds remaining.
Then her ability to read the crisscross all but ended the Prophets' season.
"I guess we just weren't meant to win this game," Cassie Reiley said.
Star of the game: Sophie Brunner, Aquin, 31 points, 13 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 blocks, 2 steals