WEBSTER CITY - For most of the second half, Ballard did what was needed to get past Webster City in Class 4A regional quarterfinals Feb. 14 at Webster City.
The Bombers trailed by seven at the half, but rallied to go up 45-44 on two Molly Ihle free throws with 51 seconds left. Ballard just needed one good stop on defense to really put the pressure on Webster City, but the Lynx’ Haley Flaws had other ideas.
Flaws drove in for a basket and drew contact with 31 seconds left. She converted the free throw to put her team up two.
Ballard then ran clock trying to get a good look to either tie or win the game. But Flaws struck again in the final seconds, getting her hands on a Bomber pass and corralling the ball with just one second left to secure a 47-45 Webster City victory.
“We came out in the second half, did a really nice job and got back into it,” Ballard head coach Kelly Anderson said. “But it seemed like every time we got up one or got up two, then we’d have a defensive breakdown and let them score and either tie it or go up one.”
The Bombers trailed 30-23 at the half. Ballard had a tough time slowing Webster City’s inside-outside combo of Cassidy Nerland and Taylor McKinney, who combined for 21 points over the first two quarters.
“A lot of flat in the first half,” Anderson said. “That I was disappointed in. We didn’t come out and we didn’t fight like we had hoped and planned to.”
In the second half, Ihle scored eight points and Josie Fleischmann hit two big 3-pointers to help Ballard take the lead on four separate occasions. Sparked by senior guard Abby Catus, the Bombers also played much better defense over the final 16 minutes.
Catus had been hampered by injuries the last two seasons. A foot injury forced her to sit out most of 2017 and this season a broken finger cost her several weeks.
But with her team’s season on the line she was all over the court, especially in the third quarter, to help get the Bombers back in the game.
“Abby did a great job,” Anderson said. “I was glad to see that. She’s such a great kid and to have her junior year taken from her with her foot and then to break her finger after the first game this year and have to sit out so long — I feel so bad for her because you can see what she can do and how she can play. If we could’ve had her all year, it would’ve made a big difference for us.”
Catus finished with two points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Ihle tallied 13 points, six assists and two steals and Fleischmann ended up with 11 points and five rebounds. The freshman duo gives Ballard a bright outlook for the future, as the Bombers aren’t planning on making first-round exits a habit.
“You hate for your seniors to go out like this — we don’t do this very many times — but we’ve got some young kids that came along really well during the season,” Anderson said. “I know they’ll put time in (during) the offseason to get better next year and hopefully we will.”
Ballard finished the season at 12-10. Tara Sanders added six points and three rebounds, Ana Vier and Maggie Larson four points and rebounds apiece and Sydni Thrailkill three points and three rebounds.
McKinney finished with 16 points to help Webster City improve to 11-10. Nerland added 13 points and Flaws scored eight.
Webster City 47, Ballard 45
B 14 9 14 8 - 45
WC 16 14 8 9 - 47
Ballard (45) - Molly Ihle 3-5 7-8 13, Josie Fleischmann 3-6 2-5 11, Tara Sanders 2-6 1-2 6, Ana Vier 2-4 0-2 4, Maggie Larson 2-8 0-0 4, Sydni Thrailkill 1-3 0-0 3, Abby Catus 1-2 0-0 2, Charity Ransom 1-2 0-0 2, Rachel Wohlgemuth 0-0 0-0 0, Karlee Ahrenholtz 0-0 0-0 0, Cassidy Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-36 10-17 45. 3-point field goals (5): Fleischmann 3, Sanders, Thrailkill. Rebounds (23): Fleischmann 5. Assists (14): Ihle 6. Steals (5): Ihle 2. Blocks (1): Vier. Fouls: 16.
Webster City (47) - Taylor McKinney 5-10 4-5 16, Cassidy Nerland 5-8 3-6 13, Haley Flaws 3-7 2-3 8, Halle Mason 2-6 2-2 6, Grace Hovertsen 1-4 0-0 2, Sara Vogelbacher 0-1 2-2 2, Zoey Woodle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-36 13-18 47. 3-point field goals (2): McKinney 2. Fouls: 13.