Kaitlin Evans achieved the right result in the right time in the right place.
The Washington senior scored with 1.8 seconds left on the clock, was fouled, and then hit her free throw to give the Lady Jays a 51-48 upset victory against Eureka Thursday in the consolation semifinals of the Union Tournament.
“It’s nice to beat one of those teams,” Washington Head Coach Adam Fischer said. “We’ve practiced hard since Oct. 31. The coaching staff has told the girls that we’re going to win these games, but it’s going to take a while. Hopefully, this is one of those wins which puts us over the hump.”
Eureka managed to tie the game in the final minute, erasing a 15-point Washington lead in the second half.
“We did have a sizeable lead in the third quarter,” Fischer said. “They did come back and tie it. We made a run against Helias the other night and they came back and smacked us in the mouth and we didn’t respond too well. Tonight, we responded. We ran the one play we needed to run and we finished it off. We did the little things we needed to do.”
Washington takes on Union for the consolation title Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
“I think they’re like us,” Fischer said. “Coach (Grant) Young is new to the program, so the girls have been getting used to him. They’ve got a great record. Their four losses are to good teams. They’re going to be a very tough opponent Saturday. The Union Wildcats are a great team. They’re well-coached and their girls play incredibly tough.”
Eureka meets Madison Prep in the seventh-place game at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Washington (6-5), seeded seventh, led the third-seeded Lady Wildcats (8-6) for most of the second half. The Lady Jays were up at the intermission, 26-22, and came with an eight-point run to start the second half.
After a Eureka basket, the Lady Jays netted the next six points to take a 39-24 advantage with more than four minutes to play in the quarter.
For Eureka, that proved to be just enough time to work back into the game. After three quarters, the gap was 11 points with Washington leading 41-30.
Helped by Washington’s aggression, Eureka was able to close the gap. Washington recorded the first 12 fouls of the half, putting Eureka in to the double bonus midway through the fourth quarter. Eureka scored six points from the line with the clock stopped to tighten the gap.
“We were working so hard and I was so excited about how we were working in our fullcourt press,” Fischer said. “When that seventh foul came, I looked up and saw how much time was left. We haven’t run the fullcourt press that often, and to do it against a team like Eureka was tough. When you do that, you’re going to live by the fouls sometimes.”
For the game, Eureka went 15-22 from the free-throw line. Washington, whistled for 24 fouls to Eureka’s 15, went 5-11 from the stripe.
The Lady Wildcats tied the game with 16.9 seconds to play when Mallory Proffer rolled in a free throw to knot it at 48-48.
With fouls to give, James Alsup’s team did everything it could to disrupt Washington’s efforts to run the offense. Three Eureka fouls gave Washington the ball under the basket on Eureka’s end. Evans took the inbounds pass, scored and was fouled with 1.8 seconds to play. She hit the free-throw to make sure that even if Eureka hit a long shot, it would only send it into overtime.
“I knew when we had that first inbounds pass with about six seconds to play, we were looking at getting a foul,” Fischer said. “I just wanted to run the play to get the ball into the girl’s hands because I knew a foul was coming. We ran the play we have been trying to run all year. We haven’t run it that well. Rachel Kackley and Kaitlin Evans set two of the best screens I’ve seen in a high school game, and that’s what got Kaitlin open under the basket.”
Helena Ballmann intercepted the inbounds pass to seal the victory.
Everything seemed to be going Eureka’s way early in the contest. The Lady ’Cats led 11-8 after one quarter, similar to the team’s first-round loss to St. Charles West Monday night.
Washington fought back. Courtney Kedroski tied it with a free throw with 1:58 left in the half and then assisted on Paige Carpenter’s basket to make it 24-22. Kedroski hit two more free throws with 18.2 seconds to play, giving Washington a four-point edge at the half.
Kedroski hit four points while Carpenter and Kirstie Leslie also scored during Washington’s eight-point run to star the third quarter.
After Lindsey McCoy scored for Eureka, Carpenter hit a three-point basket and another shot from just inside the arc to make it 39-24 in favor of the Lady Jays.
Eureka got threes from Gabby Adams and Ali Wallner to cut the gap to nine, but Washington got another Carpenter basket to lead by 11 after three quarters.
Kedroski came off the bench to lead all players in scoring with 20 points.
“Courtney has been ill this week,” Fischer said. “I gave her a little break and didn’t start her. With about a minute to go in the first quarter, I could tell she was ready to go. She’s played her butt off this week.”
Carpenter also hit double digits for Washington with 13 points.
Evans closed the contest with seven points.
Megan Freitag netted four points. Rachel Kackley, Leslie and Alex Ready recorded two points apiece. And Ballmann closed with one point.
Ballmann also absorbed a huge charge call against Eureka’s McCoy with 1:21 to play.
“We’re finally starting to realize our roles as a team,” Fischer said. “Helena would be the first one to tell you that she’s not going to knock down an 18-footer consistently. But she will rebound and play defense and do the little stuff.”
Eureka had all of the momentum and had cut the lead to 46-43 before that whistle.
Kelsey Tepen led Eureka in scoring with 13 points.
Adams was next with 12 points, all on three-point baskets.
McCoy and Proffer netted eight points apiece.
Wallner closed with five points while Hanna Vogt added two points.