RICHMOND – Richmond-Burton girls basketball coach Courtney LuDois was concerned about Marengo's ability to get to the hoop.
Despite addressing the Rockets' porous defense during every timeout and especially during halftime, they struggled to stop Marengo forward Jessica Villie and guard Sabrina Marsh from getting to the hoop.
Thankfully for R-B, its offense also had no trouble scoring and after trading baskets with the Indians most of the game, the Rockets outscored the Indians 7-3 in the final 1:30 to pull out a 60-58 Big Northern Conference East Division win. Marengo's only points during R-B's run came on Kristina Williams' 3-pointer with only 0.6 seconds remaining.
"I was just so proud of their composure down the stretch," LuDois said. "We got down six [with 6:10 left in the fourth] and we didn't panic. We finally strung some stops together and I was just so proud of how they finished."
Senior guard Alex Callanan, in her final home game, took over in the beginning of the fourth to bring R-B (13-11, 8-4 BNC East) back in the game. Callanan (team-high 18 points) knocked down a turnaround jumper in the lane and hit a three on the Rockets' next possession which shaved the Indians' six-point lead to one as they trailed 47-46 with 4:50 left.
"I came into the game wanting to win, especially since it's our senior night," Callanan said. "I have a tough time getting going, but once I get going I have that adrenaline. I wanted to win so badly and I think that just took over and my shots were going in."
Villie did her best to stave off the Rockets' comeback, scoring six of her game-high 26 points in the fourth including two free throws that gave the Indians a three-point cushion midway through the quarter. But the Rockets' offense stayed in sync and helped them take the lead for good with only 31 seconds remaining on senior guard Samantha Boettjer's layup off a Marengo turnover.
R-B did not allow Marengo (8-18, 5-8) to score in the last 1:52 of the fourth until Williams' 3-pointer. Boettjer's two free throws with virtually no time left on the clock locked up the win for the Rockets. Boettjer finished with 17 points, one of five R-B players to score at least seven points.
"Our one-on-one defense had to improve," LuDois said. "[Villie] and [Marsh] were driving past us every single time and we kind of did better in the second half. That's one thing we work on every single day is one-on-one defense and they did it down the stretch."
Marengo's plan was to attack the basket from the start led by Marsh (12 points). That aggressiveness helped the Indians outscore R-B by nine points in the second and third quarters. Villie's domination on the offensive glass gave Marengo plenty of second chances. In crunch time, though, the Indians missed free throws and open looks proved the difference maker.
"When we did press, we didn't have good recognition," Marengo coach Nick Rode said. "If we're not going to get a steal, drop back, don't give up layups. I think a little bit of fatigue and maybe just some mental fatigue at the end and not recognizing as plays developed."