POTOSI – With the Six Rivers West title on the line, the Potosi Chieftains got to the line time and time– and time– again.
The #7-ranked Chieftains stepped to the free throw line 43 times thanks to 29 Benton/Shullsburg fouls and sank 22 of those attempts to knock off the #6-ranked Zephyr-Miners, 50-42, in a battle for first-place in the Six Rivers West at PHS on Thursday, Feb. 14.
“There was a big disparity on the fouls and free throws. Both teams play aggressive, physical defense and tonight we were apparently more foul-prone. Credit Potosi and especially senior Bridget Curtis, for taking advantage,” said Benton/Shullsburg head coach Nathan Russell.
The loss dropped Benton/Shullsburg (19-2 overall, 8-1 in SRW) back into a tie with Potosi (18-3, 8-1) for first-place in the Six Rivers with just one game remaining in the regular season.
The Zephyr-Miners will have to defeat River Ridge (10-11, 4-5) in Patch Grove on Thursday, Feb. 21, in order to earn a share of the league championship, while the Chieftains host last-place Cassville (1-20, 0-9) that same night.
“We can’t sulk about this game. We have to move on immediately and realize all our goals are still attainable,” Russell stated. “Our mental approach to next week will determine if we are conference champions or not.”
Potosi center Tiffany Langmeier scored six of her 15 points early in the first quarter to lift the hosts out to a 9-4 lead, but the co-op closed the period on a 10-5 run to knot the score up at 14 all.
Potosi started off strong in the second quarter, knocking down the first seven points of the period to build a 21-14 advantage and they would never trail again.
Benton/Shullsburg’s guard–forward duo of Blaire Lutes and Sarah Redfearn combined for seven points in the second quarter to bring the guests within 23-21 with 2:30 to play in the half, but the Zephyr-Miners would get no closer.
The Chieftains continued to hold off the co-op through the third quarter, and then put the game away at the foul line by going 11-for-21 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
Curtis went 6-for-6 at the line in the fourth quarter and 8-for-8 for the game on her way to a game-high 17 points.
Benton/Shullsburg didn’t help their own cause in the final stanza, connecting on just three field goals the entire quarter to snap their eight-game winning streak.
“We didn’t make enough shots and our defensive rebounding was terrible. We had open looks that we have hit all year. We did not tonight,” said Russell. “More importantly, we let them own the offensive glass. You can’t let them have 15 offensive rebounds and win a game.”
Potosi finished 22-for-43 on the free throw attempts for the game, while the Zephyr-Miners hit just 6-of-11 attempts.
Lutes led Benton/Shullsburg with 15 points. Redfearn and senior guard Stephanie Roberts chipped in with eight points apiece.
At Argyle, on Monday, Feb. 18, the Benton/Shullsburg co-op needed overtime to put away the host Orioles, 67-64, in a non-conference clash.
The score was knotted at 61 at the end of regulation, but the Zephyr-Miners prevailed by doubling up Argyle, 6-3, in the extra session.
The two team combined to shoot 70 free throws on the night with the Orioles going 23-for-35 at the line and the Zephyr-Miners connecting on 19-of-35.
Blaire Lutes pumped in a game-high 23 points to lead the co-op, while Stephanie Roberts added 12 points.
Argyle was paced by Kayla Ostby with 14 points and Kimberly Pink with 13.
These two teams could meet up again in the second round of the playoffs if they both win their openers.
The Zephyr-Miners close the regular season at River Ridge on Thursday, Feb. 21.
Benton/Shullsburg received the #3-seed in their playoff bracket. They will open the WIAA Division 5 state tournament by hosting #14-seed Williams Bay (5-13) in a regional quarterfinal affair at Benton High School on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
“We have to hit some of those open jump shots to win games going forward. We also have to get better at rebounding if we want to reach our season goals,” admitted Russell.
Bent/Shulls… 14 7 10 11 – 42
Potosi………. 14 11 10 15 – 50
Benton/Shullsburg – Jenna Droessler 4, Blaire Lutes 15, Sarah Redfearn 8, Maggie Neis 3, Payton Bastian 2, Stephanie Roberts 8, Emily Morrissey 2. Totals – 16 6-11 42.
Potosi – Flesch 1, Hawes 1, White 4, Curtis 17, Ames 5, Brown 5, Reuter 2, Langmeier 15. Totals – 13 22-43 50.
3-point goals –B/S 4 (Lutes 1, Neis 1, Roberts 2), P 2 (White 1, Curtis 1). Total fouls – B/S 29, P 26. Fouled out – B/S: Redfearn, Neis.
Bent/Shulls… 16 15 12 18 6 – 67
Argyle………. 15 20 7 19 3 – 64
Benton/Shullsburg – Melissa Brant 5, Jenna Droessler 3, Blaire Lutes 23, Sarah Redfearn 9, Maggie Neis 7, Payton Bastian 4, Stephanie Roberts 12, Emily Morrissey 4. Totals – 23 19-35 67.
Argyle – Tollackson 6, Pink 13, Johnsen 9, Ostby 14, Treuthardt 5, Langmeier 8, Emberson 9. Totals – 19 23-35 64.
3-point goals –B/S 2 (Lutes 1, Bastian 1), A 3 (Johnsen 1, Ostby 2). Total fouls – B/S 25, A 23. Fouled out – B/S: Morrissey, Brant.