HIGHLAND - With a share of the Six Rivers West Conference championship on the line Potosi’s Abby Ames deftly deflected the mounting pressure.
The junior guard calmly drained the eventual game-winning free throw in the closing seconds of last Thursday’s conference finale at Highland to clinch the Chieftains’ crucial 67-66 win over the Cardinals.
The win gave Potosi (16-5, 9-1 SRW) a share of its fourth conference title in the last five years, and first under second-year head coach Brad Bierman. The Chieftains won three straight SRW crowns from 2008-10 and a second-place finish in the 2010 Division 4 state tournament under former coach Darby Blakley.
Potosi had an outside chance to win the league title outright, but Belmont (19-3, 9-1) clinched a share of the championship with a 37-19 victory at River Ridge on the same night.
Ames’ free throw gave Potosi (16-5, 9-1 SWR) a three-point lead and helped the Chieftains overcome a game-high 30 points from Highland senior forward Taylor Wienkes and 17 points from sophomore guard Leigh Drury.
Highland scored on its final possession to account for the final score.
Potosi jumped out a quick 13-4 first-quarter lead before Highland (14-7, 3-6 SRW) rallied with a 21-15 second-quarter run to pull within three points at halftime.
Bierman’s Chieftains outscored the Cardinals 18-15 in the third quarter and held on despite a 26-point fourth-quarter outburst from Highland.
Ames finished with a team-high 18 points in victory. Tiffany Langmeier added 18 and senior guard Ashley Flesch chipped in 11.
Monday night Potosi closed out its regular season with 61-42 non-conference loss to Platteville. Junior Elisa Bilderback scored a game-high 20 points to lead the surging Hillmen, who have now won four of their last five.
Bridget Curtis had 12 points to lead the Potosi (16-6) in defeat.
The third-seeded Chieftains will open the WIAA Division 5 playoffs next Tuesday at home versus No. 14 Weston (2-18) in a Richland Center Sectional first round game.
Potosi 67, Highland 66
(from Thursday, Feb. 23 @ Potosi)
Highland 4 21 15 26 - 66
Potosi 13 15 18 21 - 67
Highland (13-6, 3-6) - L. Drury 17, A. Yager 9, Wienkes 30, M. Drury 2, Laufenberg 2, Bomkamp 1, Wolfe 3, B. Yager 2. Totals - 23 16-27 66.
Potosi (16-5, 9-1) - Ashley Flesch 11, Haley Flesch 5, Meleah Mumm 8, Bridget Curtis 9, Kylie Meier 3, Abby Ames 18, Tiffany Langmeier 13. Totals - 26 13-24 67.
3-point goals - H: Drury 2, Wienkes, Yager; P: Ames 2. Team fouls - H: 18; P: 21. Fouled out - None.