By Dave Faries
Editor 

Kimball Girls Edge Mitchell In Overtime Thriller, 63-61

 


The final seconds came and went, and then returned to impose their agony so often on Tuesday night, the Longhorns’ 63-61 overtime win at Mitchell could only be measured by frayed nerves and frantic moments.

“It was tense,” admitted Kimball center Amber Kilgore.

With just over a minute remaining in added time, the senior’s hurried shot glanced off the glass and through to put the Longhorns on top of their conference rivals, 61-59. The hosts tried to respond, but a traveling call handed the ball back and Kilgore found herself at the line with 31 seconds on the clock.

“You have to make those,” she said. “At least I made one.”

After sinking her first free throw, the next clanged off the rim. Mitchell rebounded needing just three to tie. But Taylor Peters misfired and Danika Daum came down with the ball, dishing it to Klinkhammer.

The Tigers fouled quickly, sending Kimball’s veteran point guard to the stripe.

“When you have more at stake, that means more nerves,” Klinkhammer explained.

At stake was more than just redemption for Saturday’s loss in the Western Trails Conference tournament title game to the same Mitchell squad. Win and the Longhorns would claim the regular season crown outright and gain much needed wild card points.

With 15 seconds left to play and a 4 point lead, free throws would also put the pressure on Mitchell.

But Klinkhammer’s first attempt careened off the iron. Unfazed, she sank the second shot.

“‘We just need one,’” she said, describing what went through her mind.

Mitchell’s Felina Blanco responded with a layup, but time ran out before the Tigers could send the game into another overtime period.

The additional four minutes came after a last minute flurry that saw Kimball take the lead on a four-footer by Kilgore. With 14 seconds to go, Klinkhammer put the game seemingly out of reach by converting two from the line, extending the Longhorns’ edge to 55-51.

But the always dangerous Havannah Newens snatched back two points with a driving layup, then stunned everyone in the arena by intercepting Kimball inbound pass with two ticks on the clock and hitting a game tying shot at the buzzer.

“That was just a great defensive play by Newens,” head coach Ken Smith observed. “But the way the girls battled back show a lot of character.”

The Longhorns started the night as if still laboring under the emotional weight of Saturday’s defeat. They turned the ball over 13 times in the first half alone and went into the halftime break down 24-21.

It could have been worse, but Taylor Wismer drained a three just before the buzzer. She then single handedly erased all recent memories, hitting two consecutive treys to start the third quarter. A Kilgore jumper completed the swing, giving the Longhorns a momentary 29-24 advantage.


But the Tigers would not stay down. Kady Lower, Chalsey Grentz and company forged a 8-0 run and the battle was on.

Mitchell edged out in front 50-47 with less than 4:00 left in regulation. But Klinkhammer sank two free throws and Shelby Vogel found Tabitha Unzicker free in the paint for two more, flipping the score in Kimball’s favor, 51-50.

“It was just a great look by Shelby,” Unzicker observed. “I knew I had to finish it.”

McKenna Zulkoski evened things from the line, setting up the frantic finale.

Klinkhammer and Kilgore scored 5 points apiece in the games final 9 minutes of play, including the overtime period. Vogel added 4 more, both coming at the start of added time.

“Those were pretty crucial,” she noted, adding that the experience “was pretty nerve wracking.”

In the still hushed aftermath of Tuesday’s thriller, Smith was already thinking about the next step.

“It’s a big win,” he said. “I’ll be anxious to get home and see the wild card points—this keeps us alive.”

 

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