HUXLEY – Never back down.
That is a motto the Ballard girls’ basketball team adopted for the 2013-14 season.
On Friday that motto became reality when the Bombers took on an upstart Carlisle team at Huxley.
Ballard, ranked fourth in Class 4A, was on the verge of getting blown off its own home court by a Wildcat team sporting a six-game winning streak after starting 1-4. Hot outside shooting in the third quarter had enabled Carlisle to build a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter.
It appeared Ballard was dead in the water at that point. But in the final five minutes of regulation, the Bombers played inspired defense, hit timely outside shots and dominated the offensive glass to put together one of the greatest comebacks in program history.
Ballard fought all the way back to miraculously tie the game and force overtime. The great play of versatile forward Gabie Doud helped the Bombers maintain their edge in the extra session to pull off an improbable 68-65 victory and remain tied atop the Raccoon River Conference standings.
"We’ve had a few comebacks in our time, but I think that might be the most exciting," Ballard head coach Kelly Anderson said. "It’s a tribute to these kids. They’re so much fun to work with and they have great attitudes and a great work ethic. I’m just happy for them that they were able to fight back."
Carlisle led 55-40 with six minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Wildcats were still up 14 following a Payton Keeney basket with 4:49 remaining. But eight seconds later Emily Knittel scored a basket for Ballard, and Doud connected on six consecutive free throws in just over a minute to pull Ballard within 58-52 with 3:06 left.
An aggressive Bomber defensive stop forced a five-second violation on Keeney with just over two minutes left, then senior Kenzie Ihle followed by drilling a clutch 3-pointer to suddenly get the Bombers within three. A free throw by Agatha Beier pushed Carlisle’s lead to 59-55, but Ballard closed within 59-57 with 26 seconds left after Taylor Larson snared an offensive rebound and fed Alanna Dubberke for a basket.
Ballard then fouled Keeney and she made 1 of 2 free throws. Ihle tried to convert a tying 3-pointer on Ballard’s ensuing possession, but Larson was there again with a huge offensive rebound.
Larson immediately kicked the ball out to Knittel on the perimeter.
Knittel is much more comfortable inside, or taking the ball to the basket, than she is shooting 3-pointers. But with time winding down she had to step up and let one fly from behind the arc.
The ball went through the net with four seconds left and Knittel pumped her fist in excitement since Ballard had done the nearly impossible and fought back to tie the score at 60-60.
"I normally don’t shoot many (3-pointers), but Taylor Larson set me up and it was the right read and the right time so I shot it," Knittel said. "I normally don’t show much emotion in games, but after it went in, I just got really excited."
Carlisle was unable to get a good look in the final seconds to send the game into overtime.
In overtime Doud took over.
Doud scored eight of her game-high 28 points in overtime and she also dominated the boards – finishing with 15 rebounds on the night, including a stunning 11 offensive boards.
After Shelbie Curry scored the first basket of overtime for Carlisle, Doud tied the game off an offensive rebound. She drew a foul on the play, but was unable to convert the free throw with 3:38 left in the extra period.
The two teams went back-and-forth for the next two minutes as Keeney hit 1 of 2 free throws, Doud scored off a pass from Larson and Mary Grace Wachal scored inside for Carlisle.
Wachal missed a free throw on a chance for a three-point play following her basket as Carlisle held a 65-64 lead with 2:06 remaining. On the Bombers’ next possession, they worked the ball around and got it back to Doud in the post.
Doud got the ball and converted a basket while drawing contact with 1:38 left. She converted the three-point play to put Ballard up two.
Ballard made a big defensive stop, but then turned the ball over on its next possession after working the clock. When Carlisle got the ball back, they got an open look in the corner for Curry – who had hit three 3-pointers – but she was off the mark.
Doud rebounded and she was fouled with 4.8 ticks on the clock. She hit the first free throw, but missed the second.
Carlisle couldn’t get a clean look in the final seconds to give the Bombers the dramatic victory as they improved to 12-2 overall and 6-1 in the RRC.
"That was crazy," Doud said. "I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game in my life where we’ve been down a lot in the fourth quarter and came back. That just shows we really trust each other – it was just a really good team win."
Carlisle jumped out to a 13-4 lead to start the game, but Ballard rallied to take a 28-27 lead at the half when Ihle canned a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The two teams were even for the first half of the third quarter, but then Curry and Kaleigh Haus caught fire from outside to help Carlisle close the third on a 16-3 run.
Carlisle ended up shooting 55 percent from the field and making 6 of 13 3-pointers. But Ballard buckled down when it had to over the final four minutes of the fourth quarter to shut Carlisle down and give itself a chance.
"They did it on the defensive end," Anderson said. "That’s what we kept saying – we’ve got to get stops."
Ballard forced 20 Carlisle turnovers. After a poor rebounding first half, the Bombers also ended up outrebounding Carlisle by a 32-25 margin.
"We had to rebound," Doud said. "If we didn’t we weren’t going to come out on top. We just had to go after the ball hard and smart, and that’s what we did."
The Bombers shot 40 percent from the field and made 6 of 24 3-pointers. Ballard also did well from the line, making 70 percent of its foul shots (14 of 20).
Doud shot 9 of 20 from the field and 10 of 12 from the line. She also had four steals, two assists and one block.
Knittel had 19 points and five rebounds and Ihle hit four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points, three rebounds and two assists. Dubberke chipped in four points, five rebounds and three assists.
Larson scored three points. She also dished out three assists – none bigger than the one she fed to Knittel to force overtime.
"Coach always says the little things are what matter," Larson said. "So when I go out, I always try and make the little things happen."
Carlisle dropped to 7-5 overall. The Wildcats remain in the thick of the RRC title hunt despite the loss as they fell to 6-2 in the conference.
Keeney led Carlisle with 18 points, Curry and Wachal had 13 points apiece, Haus scored 11 and Beier finished with six. Haus also had four assists, Wachal tallied seven rebounds and four assists and Beier chipped in eight rebounds, six assists and one steal.
Ballard 68, Carlisle 65 (OT)
C 14 13 24 9 5 – 65
B 11 17 10 22 8 – 68
Carlisle (65) – Agatha Beier 1-5 3-4 6, Mary Grace Wachal 6-10 1-2 13, Shyanne Dubois 1-3 0-0 2, Gabby Schnathorst 1-1 0-0 2, Kaleigh Haus 3-6 3-4 11, Shelbie Curry 5-7 0-0 13, Payton Keeney 6-9 6-11 18, Liz Fitzgerald 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 23-42 13-21 65. 3-point field goals (6): Curry 3, Haus 2, Baier. Rebounds (25): Beier 8. Assists (18): Beier 6. Steals (4): Haus, Curry, Fitzgerald, Beier. Blocks (1): Keeney.
Ballard (68) – Kenzie Ihle 5-15 0-0 14, Taylor Larson 1-2 0-0 3, Gabie Doud 9-20 10-12 28, Charcey Petersen 0-0 0-0 0, Emily Knittel 7-15 4-8 19, Jenna Moody 0-2 0-0 0, Abby McGee 0-1 0-0 0, Alanna Dubberke 2-2 0-0 4, Meredith Ossian 0-2 0-0 0, Sheridan Gealow 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-59 14-20 68. 3-point field goals (6): Ihle 4, Larson, Knittel. Rebounds (32): Doud 15. Assists (18): Larson 3, Dubberke 3. Steals (13): Doud 4. Blocks (2): Doud, Dubberke.
WINTERSET – A big second quarter helped Ballard down Winterset, 47-40, on the road Jan. 14 in a Raccoon River Conference matchup.
Ballard outscored Winterset 18-7 in the second quarter to build a 26-17 halftime lead. Winterset cut the Bomber advantage to seven points after three quarters, but the Huskies were unable to make up any ground in the fourth quarter.
The Bombers won with dominant defense. They held the Huskies to 4 of 27 shooting from 3-point range and to 26-percent shooting overall from the field.
Ballard also won the rebounding battle by a 31-26 margin. On offense the Bombers shot 43 percent from the field and made 7 of 17 3-pointers.
Gabie Doud had 13 points, 11 rebounds and five steals for Ballard. Emily Knittel and Meredith Ossian tacked on nine points apiece, Kenzie Ihle scored eight and Taylor Larson finished with six.
Ossian hit three 3-pointers and Ihle and Larson each drained two. Abby McGee chipped in four assists and two steals for the Bombers.
Mariah Criswell paced Winterset with 15 points, four steals, three rebounds, two assists and one block. Janel Henggeler added nine points and six rebounds and Darby Messerschmitt tacked on five points, four rebounds and two assists for the Huskies.
Ballard 47, Winterset 40
B 8 18 9 12 – 47
W 10 7 11 12 – 40
Ballard (47) – Charcey Petersen 0-0 0-1 0, Jenna Moody 0-1 0-0 0, Gabie Doud 4-13 5-9 13, Abby McGee 0-1 0-0 0, Emily Knittel 2-3 5-6 9, Kenzie Ihle 3-9 0-0 8, Meredith Ossian 3-5 0-2 9, Alanna Dubberke 1-1 0-0 2, Taylor Larson 2-2 0-0 6, Sheridan Gealow 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-35 10-18 47. 3-point field goals (7): Ossian 3, Ihle 2, Larson 2. Rebounds (31): Doud 11. Assists (14): McGee 4. Steals (12): Doud 5. Blocks (1): Ossian.
Winterset (40) – Macy Johnson 1-4 0-0 3, Mariah Criswell 4-16 5-6 15, Darby Messerschmitt 2-11 0-0 5, Macayla Criswell 1-2 0-0 2, Kaylee Crouse 0-0 0-0 0, Sam Moss 1-2 2-2 4, Molly Eyerly 1-6 0-0 2, Layken Gurwell 0-0 0-0 0, Carley Fulcher 0-1 0-0 0, Janel Henggeler 2-4 5-6 9. Totals: 12-46 12-14 40. 3-point field goals (4): Mar. Criswell 2, Johnson, Messerschmitt. Rebounds (26): Henggeler 6. Assists (7): Mar. Criswell 2, Messerschmitt 2, Moss 2. Steals (11): Mar. Criswell 4. Blocks (2): Mar. Criswell, Messerschmitt.