By: Scott “The Freak of Speak” Latta

 

The tale of the tape coming into the contest:

Herculaneum: 12-10 overall record (4-0 conference record) – coming in winning six in a row

Grandview: 14-5 overall record (3-1 conference record) – coming in winning four in a row

Herculaneum in conference play: Scoring Avg 50.75 pts vs pts allowed 32.00

Grandview in conference play: Scoring Avg 41.50 pts vs pts allowed 32.75

After the player introductions were complete, it was time for the evening’s main event to kick off. Once the tip off was in play, both teams began cautiously. They were like two boxers circling one another looking for the opportunity to strike. Grandview began the game in a man-to-man defense and Herky was working a 2-3 zone for their defensive set to start. The first points of the game belonged to Herky as #23 Taylor Thompson put the visitors on the board with a runner along the lane. The Lady Eagles answered with a jumper from #32 Lilly Patterson. #12 Emily Gruhala, one of eight seniors for Herculaneum, scored a bucket to put Herky back in front. Down at the other end, Annabelle Wakeland kept a possession alive with two offensive rebounds before she scored on a put back. In addition to showing her blocking and rebounding skills, the elder Wakeland dished up an assist to give the Lady Eagles their first lead at 6-4. After an Annabelle Wakeland block of #5 Kyrsten Britton, the teams traded possessions without scoring. A Grandview offensive rebound led to #22 Natalie Moore getting fouled in the act of shooting. Moore was able to convert only one of two free throws. On the ensuing possession, Grandview created a steal but immediately turned the ball over. After a transition basket by Moore, the Lady Eagles were up 9-4. With 1:03 remaining in the quarter, #11 Maddi Dearing for the Lady Black Cats was able to draw a foul on Annabelle Wakeland. Dearing stepped to the free throw line and coolly drained a pair of free throws to pull her team to within three. After a rebound and drive by Thompson, she was unable to make the shot but did cash in one of the two free throws. With under 20 seconds in the quarter, Wakeland unleashed a long 3-point attempt that was unsuccessful, but the ball trickled out of bounds off a Herky player with 14.1 seconds remaining. The Eagles inbounded the ball and worked it to Wakeland, who was able to sink a 13-foot jumper with under two second to go! After one quarter of play: Grandview 11 Herculaneum 7.

Beginning quarter number two, Grandview inbounded the ball. Grandview missed their shot and #22 Macey Pilliard grabbed the rebound. Down at the other end, Pilliard worked free for a nice layup for her two points. Grandview answered with a bucket by Wakeland to push the lead back up to four at 13-9. After a hustling turnover on #25 Madi Lawson, another senior for Herky, the resulting possession was a jumpball/tie-up with the possession arrow in favor of the Lady Black Cats. The teams traded possessions without scoring before Britton was able to connect for a huge 3-pointer to bring Herky to within one point of the Lady Eagles. Grandview was unable to convert the next time with the ball. With the clock under 5 minutes to go before the half, Pilliard smoothly banked in a shot to push the Lady Black Cats ahead 14-13. The next trip down the floor saw the freshman #4 Catherine ‘Cat’ Wakeland swish home a 3-pointer to swing the Lady Eagles back in front! After a turnover and jumpball/tie-up, Macey Pilliard sank a big bucket to knot the game up at 16 with 3 minutes remaining before the half. Following a steal and an unfruitful set on offense for Herky, Grandview got an offensive rebound and putback by the senior Patterson for Grandview to give them a two-point lead. Following a Cat Wakeland steal and pass ahead, Patterson was fouled. She was only able to convert 50% of those free throws but did extend the lead to 19-16. Following a Herky missed shot, Grandview got the ball only to have it stolen by Thompson who made a nice basket and was fouled by Cat Wakeland. Thompson then sank her free throw to complete her well-earned three-point-play. Around the 1:40 mark, Lawson snatched another steal and made her layup to put her team ahead 21-19. Senior guard #15 Lexi Ashe created a steal for the Lady Black Cats and they were able to cash in with another Britton 3-ball to expand the Herky lead to five. Once again, the teams traded turnovers before Gruhala chipped in two points with the clock running down. With the Lady Eagles trailing by 7 now, they were desperate for points before the half. In the stands, the fans were counting down the last few remaining seconds. Annabelle Wakeland caught the pass, turned and shot…and drained the bucket with 1.1 seconds remaining! Score at the half: Herculaneum 26 Grandview 21.

Grandview started the second half with possession. After each team was unsuccessful with their initial try to score, (stop me if you’ve heard this before) Grandview had the ball stolen by #25 Madi Lawson. Lawson was like grape jelly on a kid’s iPad after lunch – she was all over it (the basketball). Her thievery was advantageous as she was fouled and converted both of her free throw attempts. After a few minutes of patient play, Grandview had the ball and Annabelle Wakeland experienced something she’s not accustomed to being on the receiving end of too often: she had her shot blocked! After a jumpball/tie-up, Cat Wakeland was fouled whilst shooting, but again Grandview could only garner one point from the free throws. A little later, big sister Wakeland funneled in an 8-foot turn around jumper to eek the Lady Eagles to within 28-24. After booked-ended Herky turnovers with a Grandview missed shot in between, Annabelle worked down on the blocks to put home a 3-footer and the Herky lead was down to just two points. Now with under 2:30 to go in the quarter, EVERYTHING was hotly contested. Herculaneum’s possession ended when they were whistled for a questionable offensive foul. The Lady Eagles followed with a missed a shot on their next possession and then committed a foul to boot. A flurry of action transpired over the next minute with the ball ending up being knocked into the Herky bench at the feet of Black Cats coach Riley Blair. Cat Wakeland made a deft play and stole the ball, but the rush up the floor was short-circuited by a turnover. Once again Grandview acquired the ball and Annabelle Wakeland made a nice assist to a teammate and the score was tied at 28-28 with under a minute to play in the quarter! The Lady Black Cats worked up the court and fed Gruhala who calmly drained a jumper as time expired to send the Herky squad to the fourth quarter with a lead! Wow what a game! Score after three quarters: Herculaneum 30 Grandview 28.

Grandview to start the fourth quarter with the ball. The Lady Eagle starters have played the bulk of the minutes with Annabelle Wakeland not missing a second of game action. Herculaneum has shortened their normal rotation but has gotten valuable minutes from the bench especially #4 Sammy Maddox (cool shoes) and #11 Maddie Dearing. A little over a minute into the fourth quarter, Britton is fouled. She misses only the team’s second free throw of the night but still makes one of two. At this juncture, points are critical. The energy in the crowd feels as though it has shifted to the visitors’ section as Herky looks very composed and Grandview appears a little flat-footed. A steal by Thompson results in a layup and now the Lady Black Cats are up 33-28. Grandview expended a lot of energy in getting the game back to tied near the end of the third quarter and maybe a little bit of air came out of their balloon with the clutch basket by Gruhala. With a little more than four minutes left in the ballgame, Pilliard is fouled and knocks down both free throws. The score now leaning heavily towards Herky at 35-28. Grandview has attempted numerous shots from distance to try to get a big 3 but without any success. Cat Wakeland does manage to get inside the Herky defense and is fouled while shooting. Unfortunately, she cannot connect on either of her free throws. Time has started to run out on the Lady Eagles’ championship hopes. Entering into the fray in the closing minutes: sophomore guard #10 MacKenzie Duncan. Duncan is fouled in the act of shooting – making the shot and then completing the three-point play in impressive fashion for an underclassman in that situation. Grandview’s ensuing possession has them being very deliberate with precious seconds ticking away. After a Grandview missed shot, Herky rebounds the miss and advances the ball where it ends up in the hands of Duncan once again. Duncan’s visit to the free throw line results in two made free throws as fluid as you please. I would venture to say this crunch time performance may galvanize former local standout Jordan Duncan to ask for an autograph. Grandview has one more possession that is fittingly enough stolen. Black Cats are ahead 40-28 as the game clock goes to all zeros. Impressive defensive displays by Herculaneum shutting out the Eagles in the final quarter.

As someone who enjoys the local high school game and getting to know the programs, coaches and players: This game was everything you could’ve hoped for – even if you are a Grandview alum (ahem, guilty). Kudos to both teams for playing their guts out and tip of the cap to both coaches for having both sides well prepared. Good luck to both squads going forward into districts and here’s to more wins for both programs.

Peace. #33 – The Freak

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