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BC subdues West Lafayette in 2 OTs
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Lafayette Journal & Courier

By Brendan Murphy

OXFORD -- One more play. That's all that separated West Lafayette from victory and what enabled Benton Central to advance to the semifinals.
(By Frank Oliver/Journal and Courier)
Benton CentralŐs Skyler Gick dishes the ball off under pressure from three West Lafayette defenders.

The Bison squandered a six-point lead with four minutes left in regulation, survived a buzzer-beater that forced overtime and shook off the absence of their second-leading scorer. Freshman Skyler Gick helped BC earn a dramatic 80-79 double-overtime victory over the Red Devils at the Class 3A Benton Central Sectional.

"We wanted it real bad," BC junior Emily Butler said. "Nothing better than to beat West Side in the first game of the sectional. We gave it our all."

Before a raucous crowd of 1,967 at Arena Gymnasium, this sectional opener had it all. A big lead by Benton Central. A rally by the Red Devils after leading scorer Michelle Oswalt fouled out. West Lafayette ahead by four points with 48.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter. A Bison comeback.

The two-time defending sectional champion Red Devils forcing overtime with a bucket at the buzzer. Benton Central seizing control in the second overtime and holding off one final push by West Side.

"A couple of weeks ago we wouldn't have been able to do it without Michelle, but I thought everyone stepped up tonight," Red Devils senior Hilary Butler said. "We came up short, but we all stepped up when Michelle went out."

Benton Central (19-3) will play Frankfort in the first semifinal on Friday. Allyson Byrne scored with 1.3 seconds left to lift the Hot Dogs over Maconaquah, 68-66.

The Bison appeared to have the game wrapped up when Oswalt fouled out with 4:14 left in the fourth quarter and BC holding a 47-41 lead. But the Red Devils (13-9) didn't quit. A 16-6 run gave them a 57-53 advantage with 48.9 seconds to go.

Rebecca Wolfe converted a layup off a nifty pass from Gick for a 60-58 BC lead with 1.5 seconds left. After a timeout, Olivia Ghiselli's three-quarter-court pass was caught by Brooke Baumis, who took one dribble and scored as time expired.

"We have been working on last-minute plays, what we could do in those situations," said Baumis, who led all scorers with 33 points. "It really worked out and gave us another chance to win sectionals."

Benton Central grabbed an early 65-62 lead in the first overtime but was forced into a second extra period when Baumis connected with 18.1 seconds to play. Once the two longtime rivals entered the final four minutes, it was all Bison.

Kayla Cripe helped BC take command with a pair of baskets for a 76-71 lead with 1:27 left. The Bison still led 80-77 when Baumis scored, but West Side didn't have a timeout to stop the clock. Baumis scored 20 of her 33 points in the fourth quarter and two overtimes.

"This is probably the most exciting high school game I have been a part of as a player or coach," West Lafayette's Craig Shaeffer said. "We knew BC was going to be a worthy adversary, and they proved to be the excellent team that we thought that they were.

"It was one of those games that really could go either way. Unfortunately for us it went their way tonight. While they earned it, I couldn't be more proud of my kids. They absolutely battled the whole way and never even came close to folding."

Gick played superbly after picking up her fourth foul with 2:52 left in regulation.

"She was the difference-maker for them," Shaeffer said. "Skyler is a very special talent. When she didn't hurt us with her shot she hurt us with her penetration and dish. We worked on it for six days, and we can try to simulate it as much as we can, but a simulation is not like the real thing. She did a great job."

The 5-foot-6 guard played like a tournament veteran, especially knowing West Lafayette was going to clamp down on her when backcourt mate Stacy fouled out with 1:10 left in the fourth quarter.

"The hesitation, after she gets a pick set, it is hard to defend," Butler said. "She has a great jump shot. You get a hand in her face and she is such a good player, it is going to fall some nights and it fell tonight.

"There were times we could have stopped her, but she was on."

Benton Central led by two after the first quarter, five at halftime and two after three quarters. That's when Gick started to heat up, despite the added pressure of losing and the season is over.

While Gick's play wasn't surprising, maybe how West Lafayette dealt with not having Oswalt on the court during the game's most intense moments was. The junior guard finished with only six points.

"Our seniors, Hilary and Olivia, gave us a lot of leadership," Shaeffer said. "A coach can try all he can to help his kids, but it comes to a point when leadership has to take over. They kept their heads up when earlier in the year they may have gotten down."

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