Just when the deck seemed to be completely stacked against the Brown Deer girls basketball team in the fourth quarter Friday night, the Falcons found a way to pull through.
The Falcons watched as a nine-point fourth quarter lead dwindled to just two in 1 minute, 45 seconds, but a couple big defensive stands and a pair of free throws from junior forward Allison Laurent helped seal a 49-43 WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal at Brown Deer High School.
“I was very nervous, but I knew I had to make them for my team to get the win,” said Laurent, who had five of her 10 points in the fourth quarter, including those two free throws, and was one of three Falcons to score in double figures. “We have been playing all year with these numbers and I’m proud of my team.
“Coach was really proud of us for keeping our heads throughout the game and pulling out the win.”
First-year coach Steve Reinhardt told the team after the win he was proud of them for earning a spot in Saturday’s regional final against top-seeded Whitefish Bay, but knows his team didn’t help itself with 31 turnovers while connecting on 13 of 32 free throws.
“We weren’t real smart and intelligent handling things and let the pressure get to us a little bit,” Reinhardt said. “The free-throw shooting just killed us.
“We had a lot of turnovers against pressure that we should know how to handle right now. When we did break the press, we were able to get layups. We get pressed all the time, so it’s something that we work on. The girls just have to be ready to handle it.”
The No. 4 seeded Falcons (10-13), who have just seven players on the roster, were in foul trouble for most of the second half with sophomore Imani Stingley and junior Jasalyn Lee each picking up their fourth fouls in the third quarter. Stingley had nine points while Lee had a team-high 13. Sophomore Valerie Whiyee also came up big with 11 points for Brown Deer.
“Jasalyn is our scorer, and Imani does a lot of nice little things for us,” Reinhardt said. “We just weren’t prepared (to be without them).”
Their absence in the third quarter led to an 11-point lead dwindling to two points after a near five-minute scoreless stretch.
In the fourth quarter, the Falcons built their lead back up to nine with 2:58 left, but was down to two with 1:13 remaining, and Washington had a chance to tie the game with free throws that were off the mark with 26.2 ticks left in the game.
“I am not disappointed in the girls,” Washington coach Marlon Boyd said. “We had to piece things together. They need this bitter taste in their mouth, and it will make them work hard this summer.
“That halfcourt offensive set they play where they come and set screens, it’s a pretty good set. (Brown Deer) is big and physical and hopefully it will help them when they play Whitefish Bay.”
The No. - seeded Purgolders (12-8) were led by senior Keanna Berkhalter’s 21 points. The Falcons defense did force 35 Washington turnovers and held the City Conference champs to 15 of 67 shooting (22 percent) for the game.
“We made some plays down the stretch; got some stops then hit some free throws, so that was good,” Reinhardt said. “We just weren’t as mentally focused in some situations. When you let things get to you, it’s a crapshoot.”
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