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Cougars stage late rally to hold off Comets’ upset bid

Clawing back in crunch time

STERLING – Eastland’s Katie and Karlie Krogman weren’t even born when Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller scored eight points in 8.9 seconds in Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Eastern Conference finals.

But now the two sisters can relate to clutch scoring in postseason play.

Down by four as the clock ticked under a minute to go at the 1A Newman Regional, Karlie scored a bucket through contact, and Katie’s three-point play 4 seconds later gave Eastland the lead with 49.6 seconds left en route to the Cougars’ 53-47 regional semifinal victory over host Newman on Wednesday night.

“My free-throw percentage has been really struggling lately,” Katie Krogman said. “Knocking that down was a big confidence boost to put a little icing on the cake.”

“Katie’s not the strongest free-throw shooter, and she goes up and knocks it in,” Eastland coach Nicole Brinker said. “Karlie is actually our best free-throw shooter. For them to stand up there was huge. They played their butts off.”

Unafraid of the spotlight as a freshman, Karlie Krogman knocked down a pair of foul shots, and Lydia Coatney swiped a steal, converted a layup, and split a pair of foul shots to salt the win.

“I’ve played basketball my entire life, and it’s just another basketball game to me,” Karlie Krogman said. “The nerves were there a little, but not really.”

Newman (11-16) took its first lead of the game at 40-39 with 4:25 left after Delaney Hinrichs knocked down a 3 from the wing. Hannah Wilson came up with two huge offensive rebounds down the stretch, and knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Comets a 47-43 advantage.

Even with Eastland’s Erin Henze on the bench after fouling out, Newman couldn’t close the door due to a 4-for-9 performance from the foul line and several turnovers in the final 2 minutes.

“We didn’t take care of the ball when we needed to,” Newman coach Joe Salvatori said. “We imploded. We self-destructed. I’m sad, because they worked their tails off. Eastland is ranked and good, but that was our game to take.”

“We knew it was going to be tough on their home court,” Brinker said. “They’re physical. They made runs. But you have to credit our kids in the final minute and a half with Erin on the bench.”

Eastland (25-5) hit its first nine shots of the game and had eight assists. Karlie Krogman scored the Cougars’ first six points, and found her sister for a layup and Henze for a 3. Henze swiped a steal for an easy layup to make it 13-4 with 2:52 left in the first quarter.

Henze drilled another 3, Katie Krogman drained a jumper, and Coatney converted a three-point play to put Eastland up 21-11 after one. Newman’s Lauren Wilson was in foul trouble all night, and was held to just four points in limited action.

Madison Craft’s second 3 of the second quarter cut the Comets’ deficit to 28-21, and Josie Rank’s putback put Newman within striking distance down 30-23 at the half.

Savannah Skinner hit a 3 and a runner to trim Eastland’s lead to 30-28, and Hinrichs tied the game at the 4:20 mark of the third quarter with a pair of free throws. The Cougars held a 37-34 lead after three quarters, but scored just nine and seven points in the second and third quarter, respectively.

“We kind of stopped trying to score,” Karlie Krogman said, “and we didn’t lock down on our defense like we should have.”

“Our offense brings our intensity,” Katie Krogman added. “When our offense isn’t working, it’s harder to start our defense. But at the end, we started our defense and got our offense back into it.”

Newman shot just 37 percent (17-for-46) from the field and 8-for-15 from free-throw line. The Comets committed 22 turnovers, and despite giving the No. 8-ranked team in 1A all it wanted and more, came up short.

“We hung in there,” Salvatori said. “Madison played hard, Delaney supplied a lot of pressure, and other girls helped out. But Eastland maintained their composure. That’s the difference; the Eastland girls have won two or three regionals, and we haven’t won one in 9 years. We had the opportunity, but we didn’t take advantage.”

Craft scored a game-high 14 points for Newman. Skinner scored all 10 of her points after halftime, and Hinrichs added eight while limiting Coatney to just nine points.

Eastland finished at 34 percent (18-for-53) from the floor, but made up for it by sinking 14 of its 18 free throws. Karlie Krogman had 12 points, five rebounds and two assists, and her senior sister added 11 points, eight boards, three assists and two steals. Henze had 12 points, three steals, and a pair of rebounds and assists.

Girls basketball

1A Newman Regional semifinal

Eastland 53, Newman 47

Star of the game: Katie Krogman, Eastland, 11 points (go-ahead three-point play), 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals

Key performers: Madison Craft, Newman, 14 points, 3 3-pointers; Savannah Skinner, Newman, 10 points (all in 2nd half), 4 rebounds; Karlie Krogman, Eastland, 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists; Erin Henze, Eastland, 12 points, 3 steals

Up next: Eastland vs. Prophetstown, 7 p.m. Friday

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