The Lindsay Lady Knights hadn’t won a playoff game in three years, but Thursday, Feb. 11, they ended that drought in dramatic fashion.
Third-seeded Lindsay escaped Bland with a 38-36 victory to advance to the Class 2A area round.
The Lady Knights usually employ a pressing defense, but head coach Scott Brandewie knew that wasn’t going to work against Bland.
“They have a really good point guard that can break the press off the dribble,” Brandewie said. “We knew we were going to have to shut her down so Allison Hedrick was on her and it turned into a defensive battle. We kind of stalled each other’s offenses. We got down 10 points in the first half but I told the girls to keep fighting. We just weren’t winning the loose balls. In the third quarter we started chipping away.”
Lindsay trailed the entire game after a sluggish start to the game, but when the stakes were at their highest, the Lady Knights’ delivered.
“At the end of the game, Rachel Hutcherson hit two big free throws to tie the game,” Brandewie said. “Then without about 15 seconds left, Kyla Metzler hit Ella Dieter on a backdoor cut to take the lead. They called timeout with eight seconds left and they got a really good look and they missed it. I told our girls to not foul and make them make a shot.”
Brandewie said he thinks having his team pull out a late-game victory bodes well for the rest of the playoffs.
“It's good because even though it wasn’t a great game,” Brandewie said. “It was what I’d call an ugly duckling. Even though we struggled, we kept our composure. They always believed. Our seniors stepped up and talked to their teammates with a lot of leadership. I told the girls it was going to be tough. The focus and the belief was there. That’s what you want as a coach.”
Lindsay’s seniors helped get the Lady Knights in position to pull off the win, but a few plays from the younger players were the difference down the stretch.
“The game-winning shot was an assist from a sophomore to a sophomore,” Brandewie said. “To keep us in the game, our senior Rachel Hutcherson had 18 points. Allison Hedrick played great defense and Riley Anderle was like a tornado. She was all over the place with energy and deflections. The seniors gave us a chance to win the game and the younger players finished it off. It was great for the future.”
The winter weather has been tough of the Lady Knights’ practice plan this week but Brandewie is hoping his team will get enough in to be ready for Saturday’s tilt against Alba-Golden at 5 p.m. in Anna.
“I definitely hope we get another practice in and not for Xs and Os,” Brandewie said. “We need it for rhythm and shooting, but Alba-Golden will be in the same position. I’ve got some energizer bunnies on my team so I’m not too worried about that.”
As for Alba-Golden, Brandewie said they are well-rounded and well-coached squad.
“I’ve coached in a conference with their coach before,” Brandewie said. “They press. They zone. I don’t think they’re going to come out with any surprises. It will be if we can do what we do and I’m confident that we’ll play a good game.”
Brandewie said Alba-Golden’s zone defense is very active and it will focus on trying to turnover the Lady Knights.
“They’re not gigantic,” Brandewie said. “We have to stay patient and not rush it. We’ll see if they stay in their press the whole game. If we get chaotic and play the way the way they want us to, we might have a problem, but I’m going to try to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
If the Lady Knights are going to advance to the regional quarterfinal round, Brandewie said they are going to have to shoot better than they did against Bland.
“If we knock down shots we’ll have a chance,” Brandewie said. “That’s been the story of our season. I think we’ll be able to get the looks we need. We’ve been working on our zone offense and being patient. It’s taking most of the year to get there, but I feel like we’re going to be just fine.”