2017-12-28 / Sports

Late free throw lifts Crusaders past Eagles

The St. Mary girls didn’t get who they expected in the Muskegon Catholic Central Showcase last Thursday but got exactly what they wanted: postseason intensity.

A last-minute cancellation led to St. Mary taking on Muskegon Catholic instead of Kalamazoo Hackett, but the Lady Eagles didn’t seem to mind.

“It was what we wanted,” coach Pete Finch said. “Road trip. Their gym. And our girls showed up to play.”

The Eagles led 15-14 at the half and 22-20 through three quarters but failed to hold on, falling 33-32 on a last-minute free throw from the Crusaders.

The defeat was a first this season for St. Mary (5-1).

“It felt like a heavyweight boxing match,” Finch said. “It really did. Our girls took every punch and lost a close one that we’ll learn from.”

A pair of Lindsey Fleis free throws knotted the score at 32-32 in the final minute of the game. Then, after the made Muskegon Catholic free throw with less than 20 ticks left, the Eagles got the shot they wanted.

It didn’t fall.

“We got a look,” Finch said. “There’s a lot of positives. A little painful that we lost it, but a really, really good learning experience.

“We hung with a downstate program that is about winning, and we were right there with them.”

Hanna Grant led St. Mary in scoring with 10 points. Lexi Schaub added seven; Alexandra Kirt had five. Nicole Wittman led in rebounding with eight; Fleis and Annalea Hobbins corralled seven apiece. Jenna Sumner had six.

The Eagles will look to bounce back at Ellsworth Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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