MARENGO – Rock Falls guard Taylor Hoefler drove to her right into the lane and threw up a running off-balance shot.
But the attempt at the game-winner was just wide right as the buzzer sounded, sending Marengo into celebration mode with a 39-38 victory over the Rockets in the Class 3A Marengo Regional semifinals Tuesdya night.
Moments earlier, Marengo’s Erin Haeflinger had made 1 of 2 free throws to break a tie game and give the Indians a one-point advantage in the final minute.
“For every kid that was on the varsity bench tonight, that was their first varsity postseason win,” Marengo coach Nick Rode said. “Hopefully we’re not done.”
For Rock Falls (13-13), it was the end to what has been a difficult season at times since point guard Abbee Sigel went down with a knee injury early in the year.
“I’m going to remember what we went through,” Rock Falls coach Eric Wolf said. “It’s a what-if season. An all-stater goes out in the fourth game, we battled through that adversity. The girls never quit, they just kept working and working. They kept their heads up and kept trying to get better.”
Rock Falls jumped out to an early lead behind the solid post play of sophomore Elise Moeller. She finished with eight points, but six of them came in the first quarter.
Molly Buck scored 10 points, Miranda Hewitt scored nine points and pulled down nine rebounds, and Abi Peyton scored seven points for the Rockets.
Marengo went on a 7-0 run late in the third quarter to take its first lead since the early minutes. The final quarter was a back-and-forth affair.
“They played really good, solid defense, they get up in you, rotate pretty well,” Wolf said. “Hats off to them.”
On a night when one final free throw made the difference for Marengo, Rock Falls shot 8 of 18 from the foul line.
“Our free throws, I know it wasn’t good for what we normally shoot,” Wolf said. “That kind of hurt us tonight. We did a pretty good job on [Marengo’s Marissa Knobloch]. She had one 3 in the fourth.”
Knobloch led the Indians with 10 points and seven rebounds. Jordan Parker scored eight points for Marengo (21-8).
Marengo advances to face Burlington Central in the regional championship game at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Marengo.