LAKEVILLE — After a strong performance in the Bi-County semifinals Saturday, LaVille’s Kelsey Gurtner got tapped for the start against Argos.
It was her finish that made the biggest difference Thursday, however.
The sophomore guard put in some late heroics as she caught a quick outlet pass from Jesse Feitz on a missed Argos free throw with 15 seconds remaining, then drove the length of the floor for a slashing layup that proved to be the game-winner as scrappy LaVille edged the Class A No. 10 Dragons 40-39 in a back-and-forth thriller at Dale E. Cox Gymnasium.
“She had a strong second half the other night with nine points against the Cavs in the Bi-County game Saturday morning, so she started instead of (Mckenzie) Leed,” said LaVille Head Coach Kevin McCullough of Gurtner. “Mac hadn’t done anything wrong we just thought Kelsey had a strong performance, put her in there. She made a great play there at the end, took it to the rack and scored.”
It was a back-and forth ball game that featured a total of three ties and 18 lead changes, including eight in the fourth quarter alone.
Argos took a 39-38 advantage on a corner 3-pointer from senior Carly McCay off a Jami Patterson swing pass with 1:09 to go, but Shelby Sanders missed the front end of a one and one with 15.1 ticks on the clock to set the table for Gurtner’s game-winner. The Dragons had two more chances to clinch the game as McCay came down with a full court lob on the ensuing inbounds pass after Feitz tipped it up, but a pair of missed open layup attempts by McCay and sophomore Libby Moyer with the pressure on and the clock winding down sealed the Dragons’ third straight loss.
“Just didn’t get it done. I feel sorry for the girls, for McCay and Moyer,” said Argos Head Coach Nick Medich. “They were both fighting for the ball. I like the fact that they were going for the basketball and they weren’t waiting for somebody else to do it, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
“If (McCay) doesn’t make that 3 we’re not in the game and then she turns around and misses the layup at the end. But we told her thanks for the 3. She was all down on herself, but I said ‘Hey, there were a lot of plays in the game that could have made the outcome a little different.’”
It was a contest in which both squads had to scrap for every point as they combined for a 31-of-91 clip from the floor and 15-of-33 conversion rate from the free throw line. The Dragons got the worst of it, finishing 16 for 51 (31 percent) from the field and faring little better from the line at 5 of 13 (38 percent) on the night.
“If we hit some free throws it’s a different ball game; we hit some 3-pointers it’s a different ball game. We were 2 for 13 from 3-point range. That’s just sickening,” said Medich. “Two-point field goals 36 percent, 14 of 38. We just didn’t shoot the ball well.
“In the first half we had looks, but they just didn’t make them. It’s kind of hard to get upset with them for the ball not going in the basket. They were doing the things we wanted to, and I think if we make those shots it would have been a different ball game.”
With Argos junior post player Kayla Prochno sitting out much of the game in intermittent foul trouble and fellow Argos forward Karlee VanDerWeele sidelined with what preliminarily appeared to be an ankle sprain from the 4:22 mark of the third quarter on, the Dragons couldn’t find production off their ball pressure as the Lancers turned the ball over just 15 times after struggling with turnovers throughout the season.
“We only had 15 turnovers, so right there is the difference in the game,” said McCullough. “If we’d have had 15 turnovers against some of those other teams we might have a few more ‘W’s. We’ve tried to focus on just making the easy pass and taking our time, and they took it to heart.”
While Gurtner’s game-winner brought her total to eight points, senior Feitz put in a team-leading 16 points with seven rebounds in the win. Sophomore guard Hannah Herbster chipped in eight points as LaVille point guard Kyla Coblentz dished out six assists.
“That’s a great team victory,” said McCullough. “The kids played hard getting their butts chewed part of the time. They took the criticism, shook it off, and they tried to make the corrections. We’ve still got a young team out there, and this is a big win for us.”
Argos was led by junior guard Patterson’s game-high 19 points working off the drive, while Moyer put in a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
It was the third straight loss for the Dragons since they beat Sectional 51 rival and then-No. 3 Oregon-Davis Jan. 12 to earn a spot in the AP’s Class A state rankings.
“We had a rough Bi-County. We did a lot of things that we shouldn’t have fundamentally, so the last couple days in practice we worked on some things,” said Medich. “We got better tonight, we just didn’t put the ball in the bucket. So I told the girls that was the bright side to that. We had a good three days of practice, we’re getting better. The ball’s going to fall in the rim sooner or later. As long as we’re doing the things that we’re supposed to be doing right we’ll be alright.”
• LaVILLE 40, ARGOS 39
Argos: 9 14 26 39
LaVille: 8 14 29 40
ARGOS (39): Jami Patterson 7 4-4 19, Karlee VanDerWeele 1 0-2 2, Shelby Sanders 0 0-1 0, Carly McCay 3 0-0 7, Amanda Middleton 0 0-0 0, Libby Moyer 5 0-4 10, Kayla Prochno 0 1-2 1, Dani Fishburn 0 0-0 0; Totals: 16 5-13 39.
LaVILLE (40): Kelsey Gurtner 3 2-5 8, McKenzie Leed 0 2-2 2, Kyla Coblentz 0 0-0 0, Jesse Feitz 6 4-9 16, Hannah Herbster 3 2-2 8, Lynae Hostrawser 0 0-2 0, Amanda Carbiener 3 0-0 6, Lauren Hostrawser 0 0-0 0; Totals: 15 10-20 40.
3-pointers: Argos 2 (Patterson, McCay); LaVille 0; Turnovers: Argos 14, LaVille 15; Rebounds: Argos 35 (Moyer 13), LaVille 33 (Carbiener 8); Steals: Argos 6 (Middleton 2), LaVille 7 (Gurtner 2, Feitz 2); Assists: Argos 5 (Patterson 2), LaVille 9 (Coblentz 6); Fouls (fouled out): Argos 14 (none), LaVille 12 (none).
Records: LaVille 5-12, Argos 11-7.
JV score: LaVille 29 (Kyleigh Breeden 10, Jessica Freeman 10), Argos 28 (Allison Flower 11).