The Princeton girls basketball team remained undefeated in its own Princeton Holiday Tournament., but it didn’t come easy Thursday at Prouty Gym.
Rival Bureau Valley led for most of the game until back-to-back three-point plays early in the fourth quarter by Princeton turned the tables and sent the Tigresses on the way to 35-31 win.
“It wasn’t our prettiest win, but a win’s a win,” Princeton coach Darcy Kepner said. “I think it was senior experience at the end that helped us. Those kids have been in tight games and they knew how to handle it at the end. Kudos to them for playing us tough all game.”
The Tigresses (3-0) lead the Gold (championship) Pool heading into Saturday’s finale vs. Erie-Prophetstown at 7 p.m. E-P (2-0) will face Bureau Valley (2-1) at 8 p.m. Friday looking to set up a championship showdown against the Tigresses on Saturday.
A bucket by freshman Keighley Davis with 6:46 left in the fourth quarter gave the Tigresses their first lead of the game since Olivia Gartin opened the scoring with a 3-pointer.
The Storm’s Kate Stoller hit 2-of-3 free throws and took in a steal for layup to regain a short-lived 25-22 lead for the Storm.
That was wiped out by three-point plays by Erin May and Gartin to put the Tigresses ahead for good with 3:53 left.
“I think we were playing through contact all night,” Kepner said. “The girls were getting frustrated, but I told them to keep taking it to the basket and go up strong and they continued to do that and it paid off when we needed it.”
Storm sophomore Taylor Neuhalfen just missed a 3-pointer at the end and the Tigresses held on for the win.
“We had a good game when it comes to hustle and working our butts off defensively. Offensively, we didn’t have a good game,” BV coach Matt Wasilewski said. “Lot of credit to their defense. Princeton plays the 1-3-1 and 2-3 very well and we made a lot of bad passes and lot of unforced errors and a lot of forced errors.
“They wanted to win. Got a bunch of heart-broken girls. It’s a game of inches and that last shot’s a half-inch shorter, it’s in the bottom of the net. I thought it was in.”
Gartin led the Tigresses with 15 points. BV was led by Lynzie Cady and Kate Salisbury with 11 each.
Putnam County 41, St. Bede 26
The first half was a battle with PC clinging to a 19-18 halftime lead.
Then came the pivotal third quarter which saw the Panthers outscore the Bruins 15-2 to go up 33-19 to put the game away.
“They went to that box against Ava and we made an adjustment. We wanted to have her bring the ball up the floor and cut off it. We thought we saw some big holes she could dive into,” PC coach Jared Sale said.
With that adjustment, Hatton scored nine points in the third quarter and eight in the fourth quarter to finish with a game-high 24 points. Gracie Cuicci added 10.
The Panthers have a chance to finish in fourth place by defeating Stark County on Friday night.
“Opening up against Princeton was tough. We kind of felt like we were one of the top teams coming in. It’s tough they’re the first one you see. You play it and try to grind through it,” Sale said.
Just two players scored for St. Bede. Ella Hermes had 15 points and Ali Bosnich added 11.
“We played a good first half. They executed the way I know they can. We have to have more than two kids score all the time,” St Bede coach Stephanie Mickley said. “They fought hard for four quarters. We had one bad quarter that got away from us.”
Streator 32, Midland 31
Charlee Bourell scored the game-winner with 10.5 seconds left to give the Bulldogs their first win of the tournament.
Bourell finished with seven points and Marisa Vickers and Cailey Gwaltney added six each.
Jordan Pyles led Midland with nine points and Kyla Magnuson and Maddie Pyles added seven each.
Notes: The tournament resumes with three games Friday. Streator will play Henry at 5 p.m. followed by PC vs. Stark County at 6:30 p.m. and E-P vs. Bureau Valley at 8 p.m.