A point here, a rebound or turnover there.
It all added up to a disappointing end to the season for the Amherst girls’ basketball team.
The Falcons came out on the short end of a 51-50 overtime score to Algoma March 13 in a Division 4 sectional semifinal in Seymour.
Algoma, the defending Division 4 state champion, advanced to a sectional final two days later in Waupaca, where the Wolves knocked off Auburndale 48-40 to earn a second straight trip to state. Algoma will face Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs at 6:35 tonight (Thursday, March 20) in a state semifinal at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon.
The Falcons held their own against the Wolves. Amherst trailed 14-13 after one quarter, 27-23 at halftime and 35-34 after three quarters.
A pair of Anna Dier free throws gave Algoma it’s biggest lead – 44-36 – with 2:23 remaining in regulation, but the Falcons held the Wolves scoreless the rest of the quarter and the teams went into overtime tied at 44-44.
Jaimee Pitt’s three-pointer with 1:04 left cut the Wolves’ lead to 44-42 before Algoma’s Rachel Feuerstein lost the ball out of bounds in front of Amherst’s bench. The Falcons took advantage of the turnover, as Lindsay Rutz tied the game with 23 seconds on the clock. The Wolves called a time out with 14 seconds, but were unable to get a shot off.
The lead changed hands four times in the four-minute overtime period. Consecutive baskets from Ashley Pionkowski gave the Falcons two-point leads, but Algoma’s Meg Ryan gave her team a 49-48 lead with a three-pointer.
Another Algoma turnover gave the Falcons the ball with 21 seconds remaining and the Falcons were again able to score, as Rutz grabbed the rebound off of Pitt’s miss and scored to give Amherst a 50-49 lead with nine seconds on the clock.
That turned out to be plenty of time for Algoma to get a last shot off, as Ryan brought the ball up the court and found Kennedy Blahnik under the basket for the game-winning basket.
The Falcons had one more shot, but Pitt’s shot from half-court was off the mark.
“It was a great high school basketball game,” coach Jay Pitt said. “It’s two programs that have been at the top for a long time. Unfortunately, we came up a point short.”
The Falcons’ four seniors included Pitt’s daughter, Jaimee, as well as Rutz, Brooke Groholski and Hannah Grawey.
“It was a blast coaching these girls,” Pitt said. “I’ve been coaching them since fifth grade. It’s obviously an emotional end to the whole thing, but give them a boatload of credit. All I said in the locker room beforehand was, ‘Play and whatever happens happens.’”
Pitt and Pionkowski led the Falcons with 13 points each, while Rutz finished with eight. Ryan and Blahnik led the Wolves with 15 and 10 points, respectively.
“We left every ounce of energy that we had out there,” Pitt said. “There’s not one girl that hit the floor that didn’t play all-out. That’s all you can ask for. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t, but I can live with this loss.”