The pain was written on their faces after the game. Upset. Big upset – in more ways than one.
The heavily favored and top-seeded 2A West Lovell Lady Bulldogs fell to the fourth-seeded 2A East Sundance Lady Bulldogs in the first round of the state tournament at Casper College Thursday evening, 40-38, behind a remarkable performance by Sundance senior Kacie O’Connor, who scored two-thirds of her team’s points – 27 of 40 – including all 21 of her team’s points in the second half.
Sundance didn’t shoot well, hitting 33 percent from the field, and O’Connor herself hit only five of 18 shots. But Sundance did parade to the foul line, hitting 17 of 22 free-throw attempts, 14 of 16 by O’Connor alone as Lovell was whistled for 22 fouls in the game, seemingly whistled every time a Lovell player touched a Sundance player.
The game had an odd feel to it. Lovell looked out of sync and shot only 29.8 percent from the field. The Lady Bulldogs did get to the line, but hit only seven of 15 attempts on a frustrating evening.
“There were many factors,” Coach Chris Edwards said, noting cold shooting, nerves and foul trouble.
“The girls played a little tight for a while, we couldn’t get to the foul line and the girls were getting in foul trouble,” he said. “I thought our girls never really settled down. A lot of times we weren’t sure with the ball and we rushed things. At times we were apprehensive on our drives because we knew we wouldn’t get a foul called when we were bumped or slapped.”
Lovell came out strong and looked good early as junior Lauren Hinckley drained back-to-back three-pointers and Chayli McArthur found Kim Shumway for two on a give and go. A late free throw and put-back by Savanna Savage gave Lovell a 12-6 lead after the first quarter. Sundance didn’t score after a pair of early baskets by Cayla Adams, but ominously two Lovell starters – McArthur and Shumway – already had two fouls.
“They packed it in (with a 1-2-2 zone),” Edwards said. “When Kim was on the floor she was effective against them. But fouls dictated the flow of the game.”
Sundance outscored Lovell 13-5 in the second quarter as the Lovell players seemed sluggish, making several unforced turnovers. Sundance outscored Lovell 12-2 to lead 18-14 before a three-pointer by Mykelle Nichols stopped the bleeding. Sundance led 19-17 at halftime.
“We didn’t make good decisions with the ball for a while,” Edwards noted.
It looked like Lovell would take over the game and win easily as the Lady Bulldogs outscored Sundance 13-3 in the third quarter to lead 30-22.Shumway powered home three follow shots early, and Lovell’s full-court press bothered Sundance, which only scored a three-pointer by O’Connor early in the quarter.
“Our full-court man pressure was making it hard for them to get into their half-court offense,” Edwards said.
Things began to slowly unravel in the fourth quarter for the Lovell squad as they started the quarter with three straight traveling calls and the fouls began to mount. O’Connor took over on offense for Sundance, scoring 18 points in the quarter. A Shumway follow shot, a long jumper by Chayli McArthur and a baseline move by Shumway matched six O’Connor free throws as Lovell led 36-28 with about four minutes left, but an O’Connor trey and two free throws kept Sundance close at 36-33.
Chayli McArthur hit one of two at the line with 2:02 to play to put Lovell up 37-33, but in the final two minutes the Lady Bulldogs could manage only a single free throw and turned the ball over twice, while O’Connor converted a three-point play (basket and free throw), two free throws that tied the score 38-38 with 48 seconds to play and the winning baseline jumper with 16 seconds left.
Shumway led Lovell with 12 points and nine rebounds. Chayli McArthur added 8 points and seven boards. Shumway hit six of 11 shots from the field, but the other four starters combined for six-of-30 shooting. Only three players scored for Sundance.
“A lot of factors had to come into play for Sundance to beat us, and unfortunately they did (come into play),” Edwards noted. “Our girls mentally did not know how they could play because of the way the game was called.”
The loss sent Lovell (22-4) into a Friday morning loser-out game against the Southeast Cyclones.
Logan Gill 0 0-0 0, Brooklyn Fossen 0 0-0 0, Cayla Adams 3 1-2 7, Angela Reed 0 0-0 0, Krista Drentlaw 0 0-0 0, Kacie O’Connor 5 14-16 27, Kelsie Loken 2 2-2 6. Totals 10 17-22 40.
Madison Harper 0 0-0 0, Mykelle Nichols 1 0-0 3, Kassi Renner 0 0-0 0, Savanna Savage 0 0-0 0, Lauren Hinckley 2 0-0 6, Chayli McArthur 2 4-8 8, Charri McArthur 1 2-2 4, Mercedes Haney 1 0-0 2, Kim Shumway 6 0-1 12. Totals 14 7-15 38.
Sundance 6 13 3 18 – 40
Lovell 12 5 13 8 – 38
Three-point field goals – O’Connor 3; Hinckley 2, Nichols 1. Fouled out – Nichols, Charri McArthur. Total fouls – Sundance 14, Lovell 22.
by David Peck
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