Staring at a double-figure deficit, coach Janis Beal reminded the Northwest College women’s basketball players the clock was still running.
“We just encouraged them to keep playing,” Beal said.
And very much like dealing with a fish at the end of a line, the Lady Trappers kept reeling.
Northwest rallied to tie at the end of regulation and outlasted Casper College 70-69 in overtime to pull off a Region IX playoff upset last Friday in Casper.
The 22-9 Lady Thunderbirds were favored and had home-court advantage. It didn’t matter.
Guard Kira Marlow pumped in 22 points, including hitting 7-of-8 on foul shooting and center Dallas Petties added 16 points.
“Everybody believed we could do it,” Petties said. “It felt great. It was proving everyone wrong.”
The Trappers lost to Casper 68-57 and 58-53 during the regular season. Even after the victory, Northwest has a 15-16 record entering the next stage of the tournament Thursday in Scottsbluff, Neb., against Western Nebraska Community College.
“We had a strong belief in ourselves,” Marlow said. “We really wanted to win.”
Casper led 16-11 after one quarter and 30-24 at halftime. The Thunderbirds maintained their lead after three quarters, 43-36.
The fourth quarter belonged to Northwest, especially the last four minutes, and it was 62-all at the end of regulation.
Petties and Marlow were the prime scorers throughout, but Charri McArthur made the biggest shots late, a 3-pointer and 2-of-3 free throws after being fouled on another three-point attempt.
Petties and Marlow’s aggressiveness on offense paid off. Marlow was 7-for-12 from the field and Petties 5-for-10.
“They both did a good job of attacking the basket,” Beal said.
Even as time was ticking down and the game remained tight, Petties was convinced the Trappers would win.
“I honestly never questioned it,” she said. “Our momentum was insane.”
One strategy employed late by Northwest was selectively fouling Casper players. The Thunderbirds were missing from the line – they made just 15-of-27 tries.
“They (the Thunderbirds) struggled a little bit,” Beal said.
Although the team road trip to Nebraska amounts to a spring-break vacation in place of visiting family or going to the beach, Northwest gets to play on.
“It’s fun now,” Marlow said, “because there’s not a lot of pressure.”
(Lew Freedman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)