BLUE EARTH - Blue Earth Area senior Krista Hassing snagged a United South Central pass out of the air at midcourt and drove to the hoop for the layup.
Hassing's defensive play led the No. 4-seeded Bucs to a 57-56 lead over the No. 5-seeded Rebels with 45 seconds remaining in the second overtime of a Section 2AA, South Sub-Section quarterfinal basketball game on Tuesday night in Blue Earth.
Janessa Jahnke stole the Rebels' inbounds pass and with 21 seconds left, Rebel defender Eryn Eilertson sent Buc freshman Paige Darrington to the free throw line with the opportunity to give Blue Earth Area a three-point lead.
ONE-HANDER — Blue Earth Area’s Krista Hassing (23) fires a one-handed jumpshot over United South Central’s Eryn Eilertson during Section 2AA, South Sub-Section quarterfinal basketball action Tuesday night in Blue Earth. Photo Courtesy of Kevin Mertens/Faribault County Register
Darrington swished the pair of charity tosses to make it 59-56 in the Bucs' favor with less than 20 seconds to play.
Sophomore point guard Taylor Schultz turned the ball over on the ensuing USC possession, and another Rebel foul put Darrington back on the charity stripe with 3.5 seconds left.
Darrington missed the first shot, but sank the second to give the Bucs the eventual 60-56 victory.
"I thought that Paige Darrington did an excellent job. We work on free throws every day in practice, but for a freshman to come up and make those at the end of the game was huge," said Blue Earth Area head coach Al Cue.
The Bucs (16-11) advance to play No. 1-seeded and Class 2A, No. 2-ranked New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva in a 6 p.m. Section 2AA, South Sub-Section semifinal on Friday at Mankato East High School.
The Rebels finished their season with a 13-9 record.
Hassing, who only had three first-half points as the Bucs trailed 21-15 at the break, caught fire in the second half and overtime by going 9-for-10 from the floor and sinking 4 of 9 from the free throw line for a game-high 26 points to go along with 15 rebounds.
"They did a good job of shutting Krista down in the first half. It didn't seem like she had that many points, but that's great," said Cue.
Jenna Stevermer provided an outside shooting attack for the Bucs, sinking a jumper for two of her 16 points to give Blue Earth Area the early 25-24 lead at 14:43 in the second half.
"I thought that we struggled with their zone defense. We don't shoot that well from outside, but Jenna did a nice job of attacking and picked her shots well," said Cue.
The Rebel zone defense held the Bucs to just 15 points in the opening half, while Schultz lit up the 3-point line for USC, sinking 4 of 7 in the first half for 12 of her team-leading 14 points.
"We knew that (Lizzy) Leland could shoot from the outside, we were prepared for that. Schultz surprised us though with her outside shooting and she really did great," said Cue. "We went strictly man-to-man defense in the second half with the strict instructions of not allowing them on the 3-point line. That worked out for us."
The Rebels, who went 8-for-16 shooting in the first half, finished the game 12 of 21 from the field.
The Bucs, who started the game going 7-for-24 from the floor and made just 1 of 5 free throws, went 16-for-35 from the floor in the second half and overtimes.
Blue Earth Area also made a crucial 10 of 19 free throws, including Darrington's game-winning 3-for-4 effort.
Amanda Allis delivered a double-double performance of 13 points and 10 boards for USC, while teammate Anissa Janzig grabbed a team-leading 11 rebounds.