DES MOINES - Ballard made its run when it mattered in the fourth quarter versus Lewis Central in the Class 4A quarterfinals of the girls’ state basketball tournament Tuesday.
But they had no answer for the Titans’ Delaney Esterling.
Esterling scored a game-high 21 points and converted the tying basket with two seconds left in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Ballard only put up two points in the extra session, falling 47-46.
“It was back and forth,” Ballard head coach Kelly Anderson said. “We go cold, then hit two big 3s to get that lead (in the fourth quarter). But they’re going to make their runs too. That’s what made it such a great game.”
Ballard trailed 42-35 after an Esterling basket with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. But Maggie Larson hit a clutch 3-pointer with 1:42 left to get Ballard back in the game.
Josie Fleischmann, Ballard’s top outside shooter, then got hot at the right time Fleischmann hit a 3-pointer with 53 seconds left to pull Ballard within one then after a defensive stop She nailed another one with 27 seconds to go, giving the Bombers a 44-42 lead.
“That was huge,” Anderson said. “I kept telling her you know you’re a good shooter - keep doing it and they’ll eventually go. They did.”
The Bombers got another stop, but Fleischmann missed the front end of a one-and-one with 9.9 seconds left. Lewis Central then set it up to go to Esterling and she delivered.
In overtime McKenna Pettepier hit an early 3-pointer to give the advantage back to Lewis Central. That’s all the Titans needed.
Ballard’s only points came on a Meg Rietz putback. The Bombers had a chance to go in front in the final seconds, Brooke Loewe was just off on a drive and Ballard couldn’t get another look.
The Bombers entered the game focusing on leading Titan scorer Megan Witte, who was averaging 16.5 points per game. The Bombers held Witte to 11 points on 5 of 19 shooting, but the Titans’ other 6-1 weapon was too much to handle.
“Both of them we knew were pretty good,” Anderson said. “Witte is the one we’d seen on tape (Witte) had taken control of the other games. But Esterling is a horse.”
Witte ended up with 11 points and five rebounds. Hadley Hill had six points and rebounds apiece for the Titans, who will take a 20-5 record into the semifinals against second seed Glenwood (25-0) today.
Ballard ended its fantastic season at 22-2. The Bombers’ only loss came to state qualifier Gilbert in its season opener.
“This year was definitely my favorite year,” Larson said. “Our team chemistry was so good. We just had a lot of good memories.”
Larson was clutch in a losing effort. She led Ballard with 13 points in her final game, hitting three 3-pointers and also coming up with three big steals.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates getting me that extra pass,” Larson said. “Credit to my teammates for getting me the ball - I knew my teammates were behind me.”
Cassidy Thompson also came up big. The 6-2 center battled hard against Esterling and Witte all game, finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
“Everyone had their role to play tonight,” Thompson said. “When we all worked together and got our open looks when we needed them.”
Fleischmann had nine points. Molly Ihle came up with five points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals, Rietz had five points and six rebounds and Loewe three points, four assists and two steals.
Lewis Central 47, Ballard 46 (OT)
LC 7 13 14 10 3 - 47
B 13 8 11 12 2 - 46
Lewis Central (47) - Hadley Hill 2-5 2-2 6, McKenna Paulsen 1-2 0-0 3, McKenna Pettepier 1-2 0-0 3, Megan Witte 5-19 1-4 11, Delaney Esterling 8-14 5-6 21, Jayden Cross 0-2 0-0 0, Isabella Smith 1-3 0-0 3, Grace Ruzicka 0-2 0-0 0. Totals; 18-49 8-12 47. 3-point field goals (3): Paulsen, Pettepier, Smith. Rebounds (35): Esterling 8. Assists (9): Witte 3. Steals (7): Smith 2. Blocks (2): Cross, Smith. Fouls: 13.
Ballard (46) - Brooke Loewe 1-9 0-0 3, Maggie Larson 5-9 0-0 13, Cassidy Thompson 5-8 0-0 11, Josie Fleischmann 3-10 0-1 9, Molly Ihle 1-8 2-5 5, Rachel Wohlgemuth 0-0 0-0 0, Meg Rietz 2-7 1-4 5. Totals: 17-51 3-10 46. 3-point field goals (9): Larson 3, Fleischmann 3, Loewe, Thompson, Ihle. Rebounds (35): Ihle 10. Assists (13): Ihle 5. Steals (10): Larson 3. Blocks (5): Thompson 4. Fouls: 11.