TOPEKA — Bremen found its best scoring balance of the season, and the Lady Lions found a way to win down the stretch.
Senior forward Jenna Pfeiffer put up a team-high 17 points coming off an IBCA/ Pacers-Fever Player of the Week selection, sophomore point guard Sara Slabaugh finished with 11, and senior combo player Kailee Feldman chipped in 10 points to go with eight rebounds as the Lions closed out the game on a 12-5 run to unseat host Westview 51-45 in the Class 2A Sectional 35 opener Tuesday.
Bremen advances to play Prairie Heights in the late semifinal Friday at 7:30 p.m. following a game between LaVille and Fremont at 6 p.m.
“That’s probably the most balanced we’ve been all year, with that many people scoring,” said Bremen head coach Marty Huber.
“I’m just proud of the girls. They did a good job. Beating somebody on their home court in sectional, that’s saying something right there.”
It was a nip-tuck sectional quarterfinal that featured seven lead changes and six ties.
Bremen entered the final period trailing 32-30, but the two teams swapped leads for the last time on a pair of free throws by Feldman that gave the Lions a tenuous 41-40 edge at the 4:20 mark. Allison Shorter and Slabaugh followed with a pair of lay-ups to give Bremen some breathing room at 45-40 with 3:10 to go, and the Lions held off Westview at the line down the stretch with 11-of-17 free throw shooting in the final frame.
Slabaugh was particularly productive at the line as she knocked down 5 of 6 freebies in the fourth. She buried two with 27.8 seconds remaining in the game to make it a two-possession game at 49-45, then knocked down another two with eight seconds remaining to bring the score to its final margin and end the defending champion Warriors’ hopes of a sectional repeat.
“She’s come a long way since the beginning of the year,” said Huber of the sophomore. “She hit some key free throws there in the fourth.”
While free throw shooting made the difference down the stretch, Bremen held the advantage off the glass all night long, winning the battle of the boards by a 38-29 margin.
Shorter clutched eight caroms to lead the team with Feldman, including five offensive rebounds. The senior forward came down with three in the second quarter alone as she put up six straight second-chance points during a lead-changing run midway through the quarter.
“Allie Shorter, she’s always in the right place in the right time on the offensive boards,” said Huber. “She had a couple putbacks tonight. We work hard on rebounding. We work hard on it every day for a half hour, 45 minutes. They better be good rebounders or they won’t play.”
While Shorter finished with eight points behind double-digit production from Pfeiffer, Slabaugh and Feldman, Westview got the bulk of its scoring from athletic senior Skylar Carpenter, who tallied a game-high double-double of 20 points and 17 rebounds.
Carpenter put up nine of her points in the first quarter alone as the Warriors jumped out to a 13-10 lead, but the Lions adjusted their defense to hold her to 11 in the remaining three frames.
“We wanted to get off of her and make her shoot from out because we know she drives so well to the basket, and even getting off of her she’s so quick she’ll still get around you,” Huber said. “But we weren’t being aggressive enough on her in the first half. We made Pfeiffer kind of deny her the ball in the second half, make them make a few more good passes.”
Bremen avenged last year’s sectional-opening loss with Tuesday’s win and moves on to play Prairie Heights, which drew a bye at the six-team sectional, in the late semifinal Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re playing the way we want to play, but we can still play better,” said Huber. “Prairie Heights has got a great record. We’ve got to come ready to play Friday, that’s for sure, but we’re looking forward to it.”
• WESTVIEW SECTIONAL
BREMEN 51, WESTVIEW 45
Score by quarters
Westview: 13 20 30 45
Bremen: 10 22 32 51
WESTVIEW (45): Jeslyn Zimmerly 4 4-6 12, Skyler Carpenter 8 4-5 20, Amber Roth 2 0-0 5, Brooke Yoder 3 0-1 8, Brooke Schwartz 0 0-0 0, Kayla Yoder 0 0-0 0, Rachelle Whitaker 0 0-2 0; Totals: 17 8-14 45.
BREMEN (51): Megan Stouder 0 0-0 0, Jenna Pfeiffer 5 7-12 17, Sara Slabaugh 3 5-6 11, Allison Shorter 3 2-4 8, Brooke Baker 2 1-2 5, Kailee Feldman 4 2-2 10; Totals: 17 17-26 51.
3-pointers: Bremen 0, Westview 3 (B. Yoder 2, Roth); Turnovers: Westview 20, Bremen 14; Rebounds: Westview 29 (Carpenter 17), Bremen 38 (Feldman 8, Shorter 8); Steals: Westview 8 (Carpenter 3), Bremen 7 (Pfeiffer 3); Assists: Westview 5 (Carpenter 2), Bremen 4 (Slabaugh 2); Fouls (fouled out): Bremen 14 (none), Westview 20 (Zimmerly).
Records: Bremen 13-8, Westview 10-11.