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By Marlana Smith
North Shelby fans tailgated in the parking lot awaiting the Class 1 quarterfinal game.
At 12:15 p.m., the doors opened and fans flooded in, something that hadn’t been seen all season.
Once the game tipped off 1 p.m., the noise was close to deafening.
Despite North Shelby’s (18-6) effort against the Leeton Lady Bulldogs, its remarkable season came to an end 59-46 on Saturday, March 6.
“The pressure just wore on us. We had too many turnovers in some big situations, but these girls played their guts out. There is nothing to hang their heads on,” said North Shelby head coach Landon Daniel. “They never quit and kept trying.”
Leeton scored first, but North Shelby’s Caroline Linberger quickly tied the game with a field goal. NS took the lead after Ava Williams went two-for-two from the free-throw line.
Williams led the Lady Raiders with 14 points. Linberger scored 11.
Hailey Bingaman’s 3-pointer gave the Lady Bulldogs a 6-4 advantage.
Bingaman hit another shot from outside the arc and Leeton led, 9-5.
“Leeton was a good team and that makes it a little bit better because it’s not like we didn’t show up or anything like that. We played a good game. They hit some 3s that I wasn’t expecting them to hit,” Daniel said.
Hannah Wahl and Williams each put in a bucket, tying the game 9-9 with 40 seconds left in the first quarter.
Daniel spoke about how much the three seniors have meant to the team.
“What they have done for our program is immeasurable,” Daniel said. “For Hannah and LT (Lalaine Treasure) to accept a bench role and come in and still work as hard as they do, is a role model for any person on our team.”
“Lilly (Cook) is such a great leader and such a competitor. We are a better team because of her on the floor and what she has done for the younger kids is big too,” Daniel continued. “Those three are just great kids and we are going to miss them for sure. We are very thankful for all the things they did for us.”
Regan Shaffer gave the Lady Bulldogs the advantage 19 seconds left on the clock. Leeton led 11-9.
The Lady Raiders went on a 10-point run, thanks to Williams and Linberger three minutes into the second quarter. NS led 19-11.
Leeton fought back to trail 19-15 with under four minutes on the clock. North Shelby held a four-point lead until Rowan Schmidli scored a 3-pointer with a minute and a half remaining.
Cook went two-for-two from the line giving NS an 23-20 advantage.
Bingaman tied the game with 30 seconds left in the first half with a long 3-pointer.
The third quarter was tit-for-tat on who was maintaining the lead.
Leeton scored the first basket starting the quarter. They had a three-point lead until Cook laid in a bucket and was fouled. She was successful at the line.
North Shelby’s Natalie Thrasher tied the game after she hammered in a 3-pointer. Schmidli answered, giving the Lady Bulldogs a 37-34 lead. Leeton scored another 3-pointer, but Thrasher answered back. NS trailed 40-36 with under two minutes on the clock.
Schmidli drained another 3 giving Leeton a seven-point advantage. North Shelby’s Ceairra Kirby scored with 23 seconds left in the period.
Shaffer was fouled at the buzzer and went two-for-two from the line. The Lady Bulldogs had a 45-38 advantage.
Leeton outscored North Shelby 14-8 in the final period.