By DARREL PATTILLO
Special to the Telegram
LARNED — It was one of those games where it was a shame one team had to lose, as two tough and gritty squads slugged it out all the way to the end of a double-overtime thriller in the Class 3A sub-state semifinals Thursday night.
The Thomas More Prep-Marian girls' basketball team hit a buzzer-beater to send it to overtime, and Holcomb senior Breanna Gottschalk sent it to double-overtime before the Monarchs outlasted the Longhorns, 66-59.
TMP senior Taylor Dinges had shot only two 3-pointers in the game, but the one she hit with five seconds left in regulation was just what her team needed.
"She's not exactly who we want out there shooting three's," Monarch coach Alan Billinger said.
Gottschalk got free at the top of the arc with a second left in the first overtime and swished her trey to tie it at 55. The Holcomb standout scored 32 points on the evening to lead all scorers while junior Rachel Jacobs scored a career-high 30 for the Monarchs.
Both teams played a solid first quarter. The Monarchs (18-4) played their familiar collapsing zone, contrasted by the Longhorns (18-4), who used a frenetic man-to-man defense.
"We've depended on our defense all year," Longhorn coach Kelley Snodgrass said. "And it was there tonight."
The offense came to life in the second quarter, with TMP going on a 9-0 run. But just when it looked like the Monarchs might pull away, the Longhorns exploded for 10 points late in the half and tied it on an Amy Stegman steal.
The Holcomb senior stole the ball from TMP senior Shaunna Ruder. Stegman missed the layup, but Ruder fouled her, and the teams went to the locker room tied 23-23.
Defense took over in the third period. The Longhorns held the Monarchs to six points, all by Jacobs.
"I told them we had to use our quickness to our advantage," Snodgrass said. "We had to play some hard-nosed defense."
The one recurring theme for the Monarchs this season has been; would Jacobs get any help?
This time, she did.
"What was nice about the fourth quarter, was that we had other people step up," Billinger said. "It was just a great team effort. I thought we played intelligent."
The Monarchs were down seven, 38-31, midway through the fourth quarter, when junior Jenna Lang and Dinges took over for the Monarchs.
The pair accounted for 14 of TMP's 17 points in the comeback. Lang's jumper with 37 seconds left in the game got the Monarchs to within two.
After Holcomb sophomore Kyshia Prieto made only one of two free throws, Dinges got open with five seconds left and made the 3-pointer to tie the game and send it into overtime.
"Just a marvelous game," Billinger said. "What a fantastic game."
The defense stepped up again in the first overtime. Neither team gave up anything resembling an open shot until Lang popped in a trey with 25 seconds left to put the Monarchs up 54-52.
Dinges then made a free throw to put TMP up by three points.
But Gottschalk, who scored all seven of Holcomb's points in the first overtime, got open at the top of the arc and hit a game-tying three to send it into the second extra session.
The Monarchs got points from four of their five starters late in the second OT, with a three-pointer from sophomore Heather Ruder that put the Monarchs up by five.
The Monarchs also got the job done at the charity stripe. Dinges, Lang and Jacobs hit 6-of-10 free throws in the second OT to seal the deal for TMP.
TMP, the defending Class 3A state champion, will face Southwestern Heights, the CLass 3A sub-state top seed, on Saturday at 6 p.m. for the chance to move on the state tournament.
TMP 10 13 06 19 07 11-- 66
Holcomb 9 14 10 15 07 04 — 59
S. Ruder 1-3 0-0 2, Rachel Jacobs 11-23 7-10 30, H Ruder 2-8 0-2 6, Taylor Dinges 3-10 7-10 14, Jenna Lang 5-11 3-7 14. Totals — 22-55 17-29 66.
Pfeifer 1-10 2-2 5, Prieto 1-3 1-4 3, Breanna Gottschalk 9-26 10-13 32, Stegman 3-9 2-4 8, Landwehr 2-6 0-0 2, Amos 2-3 0-0 4, Pena 2-6 1-2 5, Totals — 20-63 16-25 59.
3-point goals — TMP 5-13 (Jacobs 1-3, H. Ruder 2-6, Dinges 1-2, Lang 1-3); Holcomb 4-14 (Pfeifer 1-2, Prieto 0-2, Gottschalk 4-11, Stegman 1-2, Landwehr 0-1). Total fouls — TMP 14, Holcomb 20. Fouled out — Pfeifer. Technical fouls — none; Rebounds — TMP 36 (Dinges 9); Holcomb 25 (Prieto 5, Gottschalk 5); Turnovers — TMP 20 Holcomb 17.