By Rob Potter
WEST POINT March 6, 2001 Eldred outscored Roscoe 14 to zero in overtime Sunday at West Points Christl Arena to earn a 57-43 win in the girls Section IX Class D title game.
In knocking off the defending Class D champion Lady Blue Devils, Eldred (203) earned its first sectional title since 1994. Eldred will move on to face Section I Champion Haldane in the first round of the state playoffs. That contest is scheduled for 5 p.m. tonight at Christl Arena.
After trailing by eight at halftime and for much of the third quarter, Eldred finally took the lead when Aimee Schneider hit the front end of a one-and-one with 50 seconds remaining in regulation. That foul shot gave the Lady Yellow Jackets a 38-37 lead.
Thirty-three seconds later, Roscoes Danielle Austin fouled out and Lizzi sank both foul shots to give Eldred a 43-40 lead with only 17 seconds left in regulation. But Lady Blue Devil guard Crystal Evans swished a long three-point shot with 10 seconds on the clock to send the game into overtime.
In that extra frame, Roscoe (157) went ice cold and missed several shots. And as the seconds ticked away, the Lady Blue Devils were forced to foul to save time. Eldred went 12-for-20 at the charity stripe in overtime.
Leading the way for the Lady Yellow Jackets was senior guard Christine Lizzi, who scored a game-high 25 points. She also swished eight of her 10 free throws in the extra stanza.
This is wonderful, Lizzi said while celebrating with teammates, friends, parents and coaches after the game. We have a lot of heart. We may not be the best xs and os team, but we inspire and believe in each other. Thats what got us this far.
It feels great, senior guard Loretta Wolff said of capturing the championship. Working with this team is a pleasure, Im glad to be a part of it. We were always very positive with each other and I think that helped. We always pulled together and played as a team.
Eldred coach Frank Kean noted that the team worked well together, especially with Lizzi returning. Lizzi played for Eldred as a freshman but attended a private school in Pennsylvania the past two years.
Christine coming home was the biggest thing, said Kean, noting that Lizzi averaged a triple double during the regular season. She and the other girls came together and played together. They learned to play with Christine.
For the Lady Blue Devils, the loss was bitter, considering they had been the ones celebrating on the Christl Arena floor at this time last year.
Roscoe coach Becky Ahart lamented the fact that her team blew a nine-point lead in the third quarter and played the overtime period with Austin on the bench.
Sure it did, Ahart replied when asked if Austins absence hurt her squad. It really hurt us rebounding. But after we tied it up at the end of regulation, Eldred made their foul shots. I wish them luck in their next game.
Staci Fersch led Roscoe with 11 points and Austin, who finished her career as the seventh 1,000 point scorer in Roscoe history, netted nine points.
We had a good season, Ahart added. The girls did a nice job of getting back here (to the final).
Senior guard Erin Donnelly scored 10 points for Eldred and junior center Stacie Blaut netted eight points in the contest.
Kean noted that his teams cohesiveness and leadership provided by its four seniors Donnelly, Lizzi, Jessica Timan and Wolff helped the squad a great deal this season. A little something else helped as well.
We had a good talk about heart at halftime, he said. We discussed having a bigger heart than the other team. I think we had a bigger heart today and these girls wanted it really bad.