The calendar says November, but it felt like a sectional championship game in Feburary inside May Gymnasium on Friday night.
Emotions ran high among Central Catholic and Harrison fans, and the players were nearly exhausted following the Knights’ 72-69 overtime victory in the J&C Hoops Classic semifinals.
“That was crazy from the opening tip,” Harrison coach Jake Rettig said. “It was a great environment. Both student sections were awesome. The girls were excited. It was exciting.”
Seven players scored in double figures between the two teams, but it was Central Catholic junior forward Maggie Bobillo who made the play of the game with 1:10 remaining in the extra period. Bobillo, who had four points in regulation, drove to the basket and scored to give the Knights a 69-67 lead.
CC coach Craig DeVault gave all the credit to Bobillo.
“That play is something she came up with,” DeVault said. “I tell the girls whenever they have a chance to attack the basket, I give them the green light to attack. Maggie read the defender and she got a wide-open lane to the basket.”
It was only Bobillo’s second field goal attempt of the night, and despite the Knights having close to a dozen shots blocked or altered by the Raiders’ defense, she never hesitated to make her move.
“I saw I had a wide-open lane and just one girl on me, so I took it to the hole,” Bobillo said. “On that play, we were spread out more, so the defenders were pulled out and there was nobody in the lane.”
Overtime was probably the last thing Central Catholic fans expected after the Knights jumped out to a 28-16 lead early in the second quarter on Angela Tharp’s 3-pointer. But Maggie Shandrick beat the halftime buzzer with a basket, and Harrison was within 34-32.
Courtney Jacobsen gave Harrison its first lead, 47-46, on a layup with 10 seconds to play in the third quarter. Cameron Onken seized the lead back for CC with a well-defended, leaning 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
A pair of free throws by Emily Denhart gave the Knights a 61-57 lead with less than two minutes to play. Kaitlyn Carnahan’s layup sliced the lead in half, and when Onken made just one free throw with 16.6 seconds remaining, the door was open for Harrison to force overtime.
Courtney Jacobsen drew a foul while attempting a 3-pointer with nine-tenths of a second to play. None of her three free throws touched rim, and it felt like momentum was on the Raiders’ side.
“I thought that was going to be the turning point,” Rettig said. “When we got to overtime, I thought we had a shot at finishing it out.”
Harrison’s prospects looked even better when Jacobsen’s 3-pointer and Shailen Johnson’s basket with 1:55 to go in overtime gave the Raiders a 67-64 lead.
Senior Emily Denhart, who had a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds, made an old-fashioned three-point play to tie the game with 1:21 to play, setting up Bobillo’s heroics.
“After Courtney made those three free throws, we said a little prayer in our huddle and didn’t give up,” Bobillo said. “We were always confident we could do it, but it was a little scary at times.”
Free throws from Emily Burks, Denhart and Onken closed out the victory, which sends CC into Saturday night’s final against Benton Central.
Onken led all scorers with 21 points, Tharp scored all 15 of her points in the first half, and Burks added 12 for the Knights (2-0).
Jacobsen had 20 points for Harrison (2-1), which plays Twin Lakes for third place this evening. Autumn Ringen scored 12 points before fouling out late in regulation, and Johnson contributed 10 off the Raiders’ bench.
“We’ll figure out how to close those types of games out and not have that happen to us again,” Rettig said.