SIOUX FALLS — The Huron Tigers mounted a furious second-half comeback, but down the stretch couldn’t get the shots to fall, as they came up just short, 53-46, to the third-ranked O’Gorman Lady Knights at the O’Gorman Gym.
“I’m really proud of how our girls responded tonight,” said Tiger coach Tim Buddenhagen. “We battled; we had a chance which is what we wanted. They hit their shots when they needed to and we didn’t.”
Huron got on the board first in the game as Heavan Gainey hit a quick three-pointer from the right wing. The Lady Knights responded as Hannah Ronsiek hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions - the first of four long range field goals she would drain in the opening quarter.
While the Lady Knights would continue to connect from long range, points were tough to come by for the Tigers. O’Gorman came out in an aggressive 2-3 zone, limiting clean looks for the Huron long range shooters. Bella Shreeve hit a driving layup and Brooke Schiltz scored on a put-back inside midway through the quarter, to cut the O’Gorman lead to two points, at 9-7, but the Lady Knights finished the quarter on a 12-3 run to control at 21-10 lead at the quarter stop.
Opportunities continued for the Tigers in the second quarter, but again, shots refused to fall. Huron rallied midway through the period, when Tenley Buddenhagen and Shreeve hit threes on back-to-back possessions to cut the margin to nine points, but five points on consecutive possessions from Hannah Friedman put the Lady Knights back up by 12, 31-19, at the half.
But shooters know they need to keep shooting. A quick three from Raegen Reilly put the Lady Knights up 34-19 to open the third quarter, but then the Huron shooters came to life. It started with a simple save by Tenley Buddenhagen to an open Schiltz, who was fouled and hit one free throw. Then Shreeve dialed long distance, Tenley Buddenhagen made a steal and went coast-to-coast for a layup, then hit two free throws on the next possession. Hamtyn Heinz hit a three, as did Tenley Buddenhagen and then Heinz did again, which made the score 37-36, O’Gorman. The final Tiger possession of the quarter found Shreeve open from the top of the key and she obliged with a three that gave Huron the 39-37 lead headed to the final quarter.
“Once we hit a couple of shots, then the basket gets big for us and gets smaller for them,” coach Buddenhagen said. “We did a great job on the boards and I thought we did a good job of adjusting to keep Ronsiek in check."
While Huron was hitting its shots in the third quarter, were also playing tenacious defense and allowing only one shot to the Lady Knights.
Ronsiek made a three to open the quarter, which was countered by Heinz, and with a deuce from Isabelle Moore tied the score at 42-42 with five minutes to play.
O’Gorman had changed to a man-to-man defense to open the quarter and open shots were again hard to come by for the Tigers, who worked at penetrating for inside shots, or kicking out for a look. Nothing was falling, however, even when the normally hot free throw shooting Tigers went cool from the line. O’Gorman gradually pulled away and made free throws down the stretch to hold off the upset effort and take the win.
Ronsiek scored 19 in the game, 14 of them in the opening quarter. Moore added 17 for the Lady Knights.
Tenley Buddenhagen scored 14 to lead the Tiger effort, while Shreeve tacked on 13. Heinz added nine in the contest.
“We missed some free throws (Huron went 7-13 in the game) which could have really made a difference,” Buddenhagen said. “But our girls were tough - they were down 15 and got themselves back in the game. This is probably the best toughness they have showed this year. We hit a shot and you could see they started to believe that maybe they could get things done. We need more of that.”
Huron is off until Jan. 23, when the Tigers travel to take on Aberdeen Central.
O’Gorman also held on to win the JV game, 36-30.