Girls blitz Sumner in OT for state berth
When Ali Pistora launched a running jumper with seconds left in Saturday's substate championship game, she just knew the shot was going to go in.
"My team and I had worked so hard," Pistora said. "I had no doubt it was going in."
From then on, Tonganoxie was in business.
At the end of regulation, the game was tied at 42. Tonganoxie scored first in overtime and then Sumner answered and the game again was tied at 44.
The Chieftains then took control. THS scored the game's remaining 12 points and won, 56-44.
THS improved to 21-2 with a thrilling win, while Sumner's season ended in heartbreak at 19-4.
After leading by nine in the second quarter, Tonganoxie couldn't avoid a Sumner run that tied the game at 23 heading into halftime.
Sumner then led by as many as eight in the third, but Tonganoxie continued to pick away at the Sabres' lead.
Late in the game, Tonganoxie's trapping defense caused problems for Sumner.
With roughly a minute left in the game, Madison Weller scored and pulled Tonganoxie to within three. Elizabeth Baska then made a free throw during a minute of play that seemed to last for an eternity.
A turnover here, a foul there and Tonganoxie trailing by two, the clock continued to wind down. Sumner's Marisah Henderson crossed half-court with 6.2 seconds left, but a THS double-team forced her into back court.
Henderson, who scored 34 against De Soto the night before, finished with 13 against Tonganoxie.
THS coach Randy Kraft alternated among Weller, Rachel Bogard and Rebecca Bogard to guard Henderson.
The strategy worked.
"We put three different defenders on her," Kraft said. "We kept her going east and west."
That prevented Henderson from penetrating to the hoop, something she usually is very successful at doing.
Pistora led the team in scoring with 17, while Weller added 15 and Addie Heim scored 13.
For Heim, the amazing end to a thrilling game is something she's been waiting for -- a trip to state.
"I can't describe the experience," Heim said. "I've dreamed about that my whole life and I know my teammates have. When that time finally comes, it's unbelievable."
Tonganoxie has been substate runner-up each of the last four years in volleyball. But as Weller said, that makes you work that much harder when basketball season rolls around.
Pistora agreed with Weller.
"It feels so good," Pistora said. The seniors, in the past, have come so close."
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