COUNCIL BLUFFS — The pressure nearly got to unbeaten Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln.
Against a swarming full-court defense, the Lynx committed 20 turnovers. They didn’t make any 3-pointers.
And yet the girls basketball team still turned a late 58-49 deficit to Sioux City West into a 65-64 victory when Delaney Bolton hit a free throw with 6.2 seconds to play Friday night at Abraham Lincoln High School.
With A.L. trailing 62-61 with 26 seconds left, Lauren Meeker found a cutting Bolton on an inbounds pass from near midcourt. The junior guard was fouled near the basket as the ball dropped through the net, setting off a roar from the home crowd.
“I turned around and saw the open basket,” Bolton said. “I was like, ‘There it is.’”
Her free throw made it 64-62 before West forward Tanya Meyer tied the game on a short baseline jumper with 10 seconds left. Bolton came right back, drawing a foul and making her second free throw to give her side the slim advantage.
A.L. senior Ali Heithoff absorbed a charge in the lane from West’s Cassandra Geopfert with one second remaining to all but seal the Lynx’s victory.
“The heart of these girls is just unbelievable,” A.L. coach Chad Schaa said. “They were down by nine and knew they still had a chance to do something. They came through and showed the heart of a champion. It was fantastic.”
Bolton keyed the final moments of the decisive 16-6 run. A steal and layup brought her team within 62-59. After Heithoff converted a banker in the paint, West (4-2, 3-2 Missouri River Conference) missed its first one-and-one free throw.
The pivotal three-point play followed. Bolton said the sequence was set up when she screened for Heithoff, with both girls planning for somebody to get free.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Bolton said. “We just had to play our hearts out.”
The speedy guard collected 17 points for the Lynx (7-0, 4-0), who picked up a big league win in the process. Olivia Leisinger (14 points), Meeker (13) and Taylor Volentine (12) also finished in double figures.
The fourth quarter alone featured eight lead changes. Meyer scored seven of her game-high 21 points in the period for West, which rode a 12-2 spurt to its biggest lead of the night with 4:12 left.
A.L.’s Maddy Rief and Volentine scored press-breaking layups as part of their squad’s comeback. The Lynx also made six of seven free throws during the stretch and were 17 of 23 overall.
West, conversely, made eight of 15 free throws. The Wolverines hit two of 10 from 3-point range.
“We just had some breakdowns,” West coach Betsy Reynolds said. “The little breakdowns like not rebounding or not picking up somebody, the mental lapses hurt us this game.”
The Lynx, who lost to West twice and finished sixth in the MRC last year, remain undefeated. Bolton said many of the players have continued to wear the same clothing — washed, of course — as part of a superstitious effort to keep the winning streak going.
Lucky or not, A.L. isn’t arguing with the results.
“The things they do,” Schaa said. “They’re pounding on lockers and have to be in certain seats. It’s kind of fun to see these girls go through this, because we’ve been down the past few years. I’m just so happy for the girls; their hard work is definitely paying off.”
Sioux City West (4-2, 3-2) ................. 9 15 16 24—64
CB Abraham Lincoln (7-0, 4-0) ................. 16 10 15 24—65
SCW: Serenity Sibley 0-0 0-0 0, Samantha Birkes 5-14 3-4 13, Cassandra Geopfert 7-14, 1-4 15, Amanda Gors 0-2 0-0 0, Shantel Cross 4-9 3-4 11, Molly O’Neill 2-3 0-1 4, Tanya Meyer 9-21 1-2 21. Totals: 27-63 8-15 64.
AL: Ali Heithoff 1-4 2-2 4, Maddy Rief 2-5 1-1 5, Delaney Bolton 4-11 9-14 17, Lauren Meeker 6-13 1-2 13, Taylor Volentine 4-6 4-4 12, Olivia Leisinger 7-10 0-0 14. Totals: 24-49 17-23 65.
3-point goals: W 2-10 (Birkes 0-2, Amanda Gors 0-2, Cross 0-1, Meyer 2-5) A 0-3 (Meeker 0-3). Total fouls: W 18, A 15. Fouled out: none. Technical fouls: none. Turnovers: W 15, A 20.