GIRLS BASKETBALL: Our Lady of the Lakes works overtimes to reach Final Four for fourth straight season
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BY DAN STICKRADT
WATERFORD — There are no style points in basketball.
If there was, it’s a safe bet that Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes would not be moving on in the Class D girls basketball state tournament.
The experienced Lakers, despite playing its worst offensive game in years, found a way to win Tuesday at Waterford Mott, site of a state quarterfinal game. WOLL outscored Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 4-0 in overtime and prevailed with an ugly 28-24 victory over the Fighting Irish.
Our Lady of the Lakes, playing in its fifth straight quarterfinals, advanced to the Final Four for the fourth straight season. The three-time defending Class D state champions will face Athens in a rematch of last year’s state title game at 7:50 p.m. Thursday at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center..
WOLL (20-4) turned the ball over 22 times, a season high, and shot just 10-for-39 from the floor (25.6 percent). The Lakers went the final 10:25 of the game, including a four-minute overtime session, without a field goal, and did not score single point over the final 6:05 of the fourth quarter — yet still found a way to prevail.
Senior guard and three-time All-State pick Ava Doetsch sank four free throws in overtime, the final two coming with 31 ticks remaining. She picked up a steal with six seconds remaining to seal the deal.
“I wasn’t panicking, because I knew that somehow we’d pull it out,” said Doetsch. “But it was just like so frustrating that we were making so many mistakes that shouldn’t be happening at this point.”
Doetsch finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and five steals, senior guard Lexie Robak added eight points on a torrid 3-for-15 shooting night, senior guard Anna Robb contributed seven rebounds and four steals, and senior center Hailey Howell chipped in with five points and six rebounds for the Lakers, who had to fend off the charging Fighting Irish.
The win marked Our Lady of the Lakes’ first postseason overtime game in five years.
“This was pretty close, went to overtime,” sighed Doetsch. “I don’t think I’ve been in an overtime game in (high school).”
Sacred Heart (16-7) trailed 24-17 with 6:05 to play in the game after Lakes’ Robak swished a pair of free throws. WOLL turned the ball over on six of its next seven possessions and the Fighting Irish clawed its way back, closing the fourth period on a 7-0 run. Senior forward Erica Hansen ended the run with two free throws with 1:14 left to tie the game at 24-24.
Sacred Heart missed three shots from the floor and turned the ball over three times in overtime.
Lakes coach Steve Robak believed his team could win beforehand but was surprised that his troops did not convert a single back over the final 10:25 and still won the contest.
“Not if someone said we were going to win,” offered Robak, who has coached all five consecutive quarterfinals teams. “I would’ve thought that would have been our last game of the season, but you know, some games can be like that. Our offense was struggling big time and their defense was very solid all night.
“We found a way to win,” he added.
Sacred Heart was making its second quarterfinals appearance in four years, the first since 2010. The Fighting Irish finished the night 10-for-40 from the floor (25 percent), attempted only two free throws, finished 2-for-13 from three-point range and turned the ball over 16 times in the loss, the team’s second to Our Lady of the Lakes this season.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Sacred Heart coach Damon Brown. “We knew it was going to be tough. I told them I thought we did a great job containing their players, and when it’s a tight ballgame, sometimes the ball bounces one way or the other. Unfortunately the ball bounced their way tonight.”
Junior guard Sara Hansen scored eight with four rebounds and three steals, while Erica Hansen added eight points, three rebounds and two steals in her final high school game for Sacred Heart.
Our Lady of the Lakes will carry plenty of experience into Thursday’s night’s game, including four seniors that are playing in their fourth Final Four.
“We’ll enjoy this, the coaches, for about an hour and then get back to work,” said Robak. “We have been here before, so we do have a little bit of a routine and we know what to expect.”
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