Cougars claim Manual tournament title



Sometimes, you’ve just got to dig deep and show some grit. If you’re lucky, things just might go your way.

After shooting 14 of 21 from the floor in the first half and leading 35-24 at halftime of Saturday morning’s semifinal game of the Big 8 Shootout at Emmerich Manual High School, the Trinity Lutheran girls basketball team went scoreless in the third quarter and extended that drought into the fourth quarter.

Class 2A No. 17 Sheridan only managed eight points in the third quarter, but the Blackhawks built a 48-42 lead late in the fourth quarter.

Down the stretch, though, Trinity scored the final seven points and made a couple of crucial plays for a 49-48 win.

“That’s just playing as a team,” said Cougars senior Allison Posey, who posted a season-high 21 points and shared game scoring honors with Sheridan 6-foot freshman Brittany Welch.

That’s what coach Mike Lang has been preaching to the team all season, Posey said.

“It feels like sectional all over again,” she said of pulling out the win. “It’s like that feeling of just pride in your whole team.”

In the championship game that night against Irvington Prep Academy, Trinity built a 46-16 halftime lead and had a much better second half than it did in the morning, cruising to a 78-27 win.

Against Sheridan, Posey was ready to play from the start, knocking down five of her seven shot attempts in the first quarter for 11 points, while Brianna Sons scored six points. Trinity led 19-14 through one quarter of play, and Welch kept Sheridan close with 10 points.

Then in the second quarter, Haley Couch nailed three 3-pointers and Posey hit her second one of the game, and the Cougars ended the half on an 11-1 run.

“That was the best first half of basketball we’ve played all year long,” Lang said. “It’s the basketball that I’ve been expecting to see this team play all year. We hit our shots. We ran our offense good. We were cutting good.”

This was only Posey’s third time of the season scoring in double figures. It came at a good time.

“It was so much better than it has been all season,” she said. “I’ve been struggling a lot. I’ve been trying to get as much gym time as possible, even on my own, to work on it, and it’s starting to pay off.”

In the third quarter, though, the illnesses and injuries with which the Trinity starters were dealing caught up with them.

They shot 0 for 14 from the field and had five turnovers. Fortunately, Sheridan wasn’t much better, going 2 of 10 from the field and 4 of 8 from the free-throw line with seven turnovers.

Trinity then missed its first five shots of the fourth quarter, but Posey snapped the scoring drought with a pair of free throws at 4:19 to pull within 39-37.

Lang kept telling his team to attack the basket, and Sons did just that on back-to-back possessions to even the score at 41 with 2:51 to go.

Amanda Summe’s free throws at 1:29 put Sheridan on top 48-42. Posey responded with a 3 at 1:06, and Couch stole the ball on an inbounds play and scored to make it a one-point game.

Sheridan’s Peyton Fleenor then missed a pair of free throws, Welch was called for a foul on the rebound, and Posey made two free throws for a 49-48 lead with 43 seconds remaining.

Welch missed two free throws with 24 seconds to go, and then she forced a Trinity turnover and missed a basket with four seconds on the clock. Trinity’s Angi Bergstedt missed a pair of free throws, and Posey grabbed the offensive rebound, was fouled and missed both free throws.

Following a timeout with

2.8 seconds to go, Sheridan had to travel the length of the court, but Posey and Bergstedt knocked down a pass on Trinity’s end of the court to secure the win.

“This is a game that they gutted out and won,” Lang said. “These seniors have been in so many tight ballgames like this. They’ve been in these games before, and they don’t panic down the stretch, and I felt very comfortable with the group of players we had on the floor at the end that they weren’t going to panic and get that down. So I’m very, very proud of them today. This is the kind of competition and kind of games we’re going to have to win come tournament time.”

Cougars joining Posey in double figures were Sons and Couch with 11 points apiece. Posey led the team in rebounds with seven.

In the championship, all 13 Cougars scored. Mariah Nolan led the way with 18 points, while Sydney Stuckwisch had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Sons had 10 points.

Seniors Couch, Posey and Sons were named to the all-tournament team.

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