GREENFIELD – Nodaway Valley (22-0) gained a boost from key freshmen and relied on its core of veterans to move to the Regional Final after falling in the semis the past two seasons.
The Class 2A No. 4 Wolverines knocked off pre season No. 4 South Central Calhoun (14-9) Friday in a 61-58 overtime thriller. Taking down a team that has had one losing season since 2007-08 in a round Nodaway Valley has struggled to get through made NV head coach Brian Eisbach’s group better than it was entering Friday.
“Our first two years we lost this game. We got this game the first year because we were outmatched, we let it slip away,” Eisbach said. “Last year, nothing against AHSTW, I thought we should have won that game. ... I feel like a year ago tonight, a year ago in this game we lose. We find away to lose, but we had three more points than they did and that’s what it came down to.”
South Central Calhoun didn’t make moving to the Regional Finals easy on Nodaway Valley, keeping the game close through all four quarters. With 4:15 left in the fourth quarter, the lead changed five times.
Nodaway Valley took the lead with two Macy Kuhns free throws to go up 45-43, but Kylee Schleisman hit a layup and the foul shot on an and-one to give the Titans a 46-45 lead. Lindsey Davis responded with a layup though traffic, and Riley Batta hit a shot for a 48-47 South Central Calhoun lead.
Maddax DeVault hit 1 of 2 free throws to tie the game at 48 after Schleisman hit a shot following a Wolverine turnover. DeVault dove for a ball on the floor and was fouled, hitting both her free throws after to give Nodaway Valley a 50-48 lead, sending the crowd into an uproar.
Schleisman hit another shot with 45 seconds left to tie the game at 50.
With less than 20 seconds remaining, Corinne Bond was fouled after going up for a rebound. She missed both to give South Central Calhoun the ball back with nearly 10 seconds on the clock. Bond was down low and blocked the final shot of regulation after a pass to the left block, sending the game into overtime tied at 50.
In overtime, Bond won the tip for Nodaway Valley to keep Wolverine fans on their feet. DeVault quickly scored as both sides traded shots. Davis drilled a three from the corner and Sayer Steig knocked down a shot from the wing for the Titans.
DeVault scored on a drive and Davis knocked down her second 3-pointer of overtime to give the Wolverines a 60-55 lead, its biggest since leading 32-26 in the second quarter.
Nodaway Valley missed free throws and South Central Calhoun knocked down two free throws to trail 60-57. Lexi Shike then blocked a shot and was fouled to go to the free-throw line. She hit 1 of 2 to go up 61-57 with 7.7 seconds remaining.
Steig was then fouled from beyond the arc with less than five seconds remaining. She hit one of three, and Nodaway Valley escaped with a win, remaining undefeated.
“There were a lot of similarities of this game to the Lenox game. We got up by 10 and then it turned into a rock fight,” Eisbach said. “We let them get back in it. That was a really good South Central Calhoun team. They shot lights out and we didn’t box out enough. I reminded the girls as I was screaming in a fourth-quarter timeout that, ‘that’s what got us beat last year and ended our season. You’ve all told me you don’t want this to be done yet, so let’s do it.’ We found a way.”
Weather the storm
The first half was littered with chances for the Wolverines to pull away, but South Central Calhoun remained steady to force the close finish.
Nodaway Valley jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter after Davis scored an and-one at 5:41 to put the Wolverines up 3-0. The Wolverines continued to extend, leading 10-4 at the end of the first quarter, as the offense grabbed offensive rebounds for second-chance opportunities.
South Central Calhoun gained steam in the second quarter as Addisyn Korleski hit an and-one off an inbound play to cut Nodaway Valley’s lead to 12-7. The Titans started to hit shots outside, cutting the lead to 24-17 and forcing a Wolverine timeout.
Out of the break, Nodaway Valley turned the ball over three times as South Central Calhoun continued scoring for a 10-0 run, gaining its first lead of the game up 25-24.
DeVault stopped the run with a 3-pointer, giving the Wolverines the lead, which they held 27-26 entering the second half.
“They did a good job of slowing us down and if we box out, we have possession, we run the floor, we do us,” Eisbach said. “... At times, we looked great, we would start to get some momentum back and then we’d turn it over or do something silly. ... I told the team, ‘we’re a better team tonight, tomorrow morning than we were when we started (Friday) night.”
South Central Calhoun went on a run in the third quarter, outscoring Nodaway Valley 17-9 before the Wolverines found their footing in the fourth quarter with a boost.
The win puts Nodaway Valley against AHSTW (17-6) Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Atlantic. Last season, the Wolverines’ run ended with a 63-58 loss to the Vikings in the Regional Semifinals.
“We’re going to have a really tough test with Avoca. Obviously we would like some redemption from last year and that’s how everybody it going to spin it and talk about it,” Eisbach said. “But, it’s true. We may be favored because we’re the upper seed in the bracket, but until we beat them, it’s theirs. We’ve got to beat them.”
Nodaway Valley 61, South Central Calhoun 58
SHENANDOAH (23) — (FG FT PTS) Totals — 10 0-4 23. Reese Spiegel 4 0-0 11, Allie Eveland 2 0-0 4, Ava Wolf 2 0-4 4, Allie Eveland 1 0-0 2, Allyah Parker 1 0-0 2 3-point goals — 3 (Spiegel 3). Team fouls — 8. Fouled out — none.
CRESTON (56) — (FG FT PTS) Totals — 21 11-15 56. Kelsey Fields 7 0-0 14, Sam Dunphy 5 3-5 13, Rylie Driskell 4 2-2 12, Bri Fields 2 5-6 10, Doryn Paup 3 0-0 6, Morgan Driskell 0 1-2 1. 3-point goals — 3 (R. Driskell 2, B. Fields 1). Team fouls — 9. Fouled out — None.