BROCKWELL – After two blowouts in the Class A State Playoffs, the Kirby Lady Trojans found themselves faced with a tough foe and an exciting finish in the semifinals with the Wonderview Lady Daredevils.
Along with Nemo Vista and Kingston, the same four teams appeared in the 2015 final four for the class. And, as in 2015, the Lady Trojans found themselves in a highly competitive semi-final game.
The Lady Daredevils opened the game on an 8-2 lead, but consecutive baskets by Kirby’s Brooke Mitchell and Josie Crump closed the gap to 10-6.
Faith Byers hit her second three of the early game to lift Wonderview to a 15-6 lead with 2:20 left in the quarter.
Wonderview’s Bailey Wright would sandwich two three pointers around four Kallee Cowart points for Kirby, and with Brooke Zimmerman’s two free throws with .5 seconds remaining in the quarter, the Lady Daredevils were cruising with a 22-10 lead.
The teams traded scores to open the second period, before Kirby forced three consecutive turnovers and went on a 4-0 run to push the score to 25-16.
Lady Trojan Cammie York hit a three that was immediately answered by Wonderview’s Wright.
In a quick change scenario to end the half, Gracen Smith hit a shot in the lane for Kirby, and Wonderview came storming down the court for a Zimmerman basket that game her 13 in the half. Coming back down, a Kacie Anderson basket for the Lady Trojans beat the buzzer to set the 33-25 halftime score.
The first four minutes of the third quarter had no scoring for either team. Cowart broke the ice with the first basket of the half to close the gap to 33-27.
Zimmerman hit a three to push the Wonderview lead to 36-27, debatably marking the final time in the game the momentum was solely in the Lady Daredevils’ favor.
A Mitchell two-pointer and Taylor Swanson three pointer would close the gap to 36-32. On their next possession Mitchell would sink one of two FTs to cut the lead to three.
On the final possession of the third, a three pointer by Wonderview’s Wright was negated by an offensive personal foul by Zimmerman when she collided with the Kirby defense while making the pass to Wright.
To open the final stanza, Wright would hit two from the charity stripe, cutting the once large Wonderview lead to one.
Wonderview would go on a mini-run that would make the score 43-37 on a Byers three pointer with 5:02 remaining.
On the next possessions Kirby’s Cowart would hit 3/4 FTs, cutting the lead to three with 3:30 left on the clock.
Following a Wonderview FT, Kirby would twice turn the ball over, but their defense allowed no further damage on the scoreboard.
After two Kirby free throws, the Wonderview offense was looking to just hold on, holding the ball for over a minute before a Kirby foul allowed Wright to extend the lead to 46-41.
After a missed shot, Cowart kept the ball in Kirby’s possession by getting a jump-ball call on the rebound, and Smith would cut the lead to three with a basket.
Kirby’s Swanson was called on a debatable foul call in the backcourt with 45.9 seconds, and the resulting free throws put Wonderview up by four.
Mitchell would miss a shot on the next trip down the court, and Cowart would pick up her fourth foul in the rebound battle. With Wonderview headed to the line with 33 seconds and a four point lead, things looked bleak for the Lady Trojans.
Kirby was not dismayed, however, as the missed free throw was collected by Cowart and ahead to Crump, who quickly dashed down the court for a score.
The Lady Trojan defense then forced a five second call on the ensuing inbound play with 25.1 seconds. Crump would be fouled and knock down both free throws to make the score 47-47, marking the first time in the game Wonderview didn’t hold a lead.
Cowart continued her outstanding defensive play by blocking Zimmerman’s final shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
On the first possession of overtime, Wonderview’s Shelby Reynolds would get tied up with Mitchell, gaining her fifth foul and ejection from the game.
Mitchell would hit one of two FTs, giving the Lady Trojans their first lead of the game 48-47.
After Wonderview repeated the make and miss scenario on foul shots to tie the game, Smith would get an offensive rebound and putback to regain the Kirby lead.
Wonderview would tie the game, and after a Kirby time out with 29 seconds, the Lady Trojans upped their degree of difficulty by turning the ball over on a cross-court pass.
Wonderview’s Hadley Jones would go to the line with 7.4 seconds after being fouled by Swanson, hitting one of two to give the Lady Daredevils a slim one point lead.
However, Swanson did the Lady Daredevils one better, hurriedly knocking down a shot at the buzzer to give Kirby the one point victory, 52-51.
The Kirby win places them into the state finals to be held on Thursday, Friday or Saturday next week (to be determined) in Hot Springs. In the process, they denied Wonderview of a third consecutive chance at a finals appearance, both against Nemo Vista in 2014 and 2015.