BELMONT – With the game– and their season– on the line, Potosi’s aim from the line was dead on.
The #14-ranked and third-seeded Chieftains converted 25 of their 29 foul shots to sink the #11-ranked and second-seeded Belmont Braves, 60-56, in a WIAA Division 5 regional semifinal girls’ basketball game at BHS on Saturday, March 10.
“We knew it was going to be a close game coming into it and we were prepared for a physical game,” said Belmont head coach Kaleen McGettigan. “We put them at the line too often and they converted. Credit them for knocking down those free throws. If we keep them off the line, it’s a different ball game.”
Potosi’s performance at the free throw line overshadowed a brilliant career-best 38-point performance by Belmont senior Kailee Kamps in her final prep game.
“I can’t say enough about the way Kailee performed Saturday night. This was her best game of her career, and there truly was nothing Potosi could do to stop her. She was knocking down shots from everywhere and coming up with big steals as well,” McGettigan noted. “She was truly spectacular and words cannot put what she did that night into perspective. And, having said that, those points don’t matter to her. What matters to her is that her team isn’t going to sectionals. That’s one of the many reasons why Kailee Kamps is a special athlete, peer and role model.”
The Lady Braves (21-4 overall) did all they could to stay on top of the Chieftains (19-6) through the first three quarters, outscoring their Six Rivers West co-champs in each frame to take a 43-39 lead into the fourth quarter.
However, the fourth quarter belonged to Potosi, which outscored the Braves 21-13 in the final stanza behind junior Abby Ames’ 11-point effort. The Chieftains sealed the regional title by hitting 9-of-10 free throws in the final three minutes.
The Braves cut a five-point Potosi lead down to two with under two minutes to play when Jordyn Kamps sank a free throw and Keegan Kamps putback the miss on J. Kamps’ second attempt to make the score 55-53.
The Braves could have got even closer on the play after K. Kamps was fouled while making her basket, but she missed the ensuing free throw, forcing the Braves to put the Chieftains on the line down the stretch and they didn’t miss.
Potosi finished the night connecting of 25 of 29 foul shots compared to Belmont’s 9-for-13 effort at the line.
The loss ended the Braves’ eight-game winning streak and closed out one of the most successful seasons in school history which saw Belmont earn their first-ever conference title and come close to capturing their first regional title since 1978.
“What a spectacular season this was for the team, the school and the community. It was special because of the special young female athletes we have here at Belmont. Their hard work, love of the game, willingness to learn and how they bonded as a team are major reasons why we had the success we had,” McGettigan said. “They have really started something here at Belmont, and it’s wonderful to see the younger kids wanting to be like them. I could not think of better role models for those kids. I believe Belmont girls’ basketball is going to continue to do well.”
Kamps knocked down four 3-point baskets en route her career-high 38 points, and she added eight rebounds and a team-high four steals in the game. The Lady Braves’ all-time leading scorer ends her career with 1,427 points.
Junior guard Cassie McCarthy tallied 10 points and three steals for the Braves, while freshman center Keegan Kamps contributed five points, 14 rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot for the hosts.
Senior Ashley Flesch netted 13 of 14 foul shots on her way to a team-high 24 points for the Chieftains, who move on to face unbeaten Seneca in a sectional semifinal game at Richland Center on Thursday, March 15, at 7 p.m.
Ames added 14 points and Tiffany Langmeier and Kylie Meier scored nine points apiece in the victory.
Saturday’s game marked the final prep appearance on the hardwood for seniors Kailee Kamps, Molly Bockhop and Amanda Adams.
“They are a dream group of girls. Each one of my three seniors brought different qualities to our team, and each one of them is very special. They are the kind of kids that you hope for when pushing for success,” stated McGettigan. “When you are lucky enough to have such great seniors leading your team, it’s much easier to coach. They took it upon themselves to demand hard work from the others and lead them in every way imaginable. Words cannot explain what it’s like to lose these three girls. I know they will do great things and they have left their mark on this program.”
At Belmont, on Friday, March 9, the Lady Braves started out a little slow on the offensive end of the court, but once they heated up they could not be stopped as Belmont buried the #10-seeded Cashton Eagles, 55-34, in a D-5 regional semifinal game.
“It felt good. We came out a bit sluggish, but once we got our nerves under control we were able to get into our game and have some fun with it. We played three very good quarters of basketball and we were a confident group that night. It felt good to come out on top and get a chance to play in the regional championship game,” said Coach Kaleen McGettigan.
The Braves had a little trouble getting their offense going in the first quarter, hitting just 2 of their 14 field goal attempts in the opening stanza; but the defense picked up the slack, forcing eight Cashton turnovers in the period to keep the score close.
The Eagles (10-14) held a 7-6 lead after one quarter of play.
“We knew we weren’t hitting, so the team stepped it up defensively and really disrupted Cashton’s offense,” she added.
However, Belmont found its’ shooting touch in the second quarter, burying 10 of their 14 shots in that period to outscore the Eagles 23-10 and grab a 29-17 halftime lead.
Cashton closed the gap to eight early in the third quarter, but the Braves closed the quarter with a 10-3 run to regain a double-digit lead and they went on to 10 of their 17 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter to shoot down the Eagles.
Kailee Kamps scored nine of her game-high 24 points in the second quarter to lead the Braves, while her sister, Keegan, added six of her 12 points in that same period. They each pulled down seven rebounds with Keegan registering three steals and two assists and Kailee blocking a shot.
Cassie McCarthy scored 10 points for the Braves and senior Amanda Adams led the team with four steals and three assists.
Whitney Hanson, Amber Dahl and Kelli Schmitz each scored 10 points for the Eagles.
At Belmont, on Tuesday, March 8, it was all hands on deck as the Lady Braves got everyone on the team involved in their 64-13 victory over the #15-seeded Cassville Comets in their playoff opener.
Already leading 18-1 after one quarter of play, the Orange-and-Black opened things up by outscoring the Comets (0-23) in the second quarter, 26-5, to open up a 44-6 halftime advantage.
“It is always nice to get everyone a lot of playing time. The girls who come to practice every day and don’t get the minutes can wear on them. So it’s always nice to get them some quality minutes,” said Coach Kaleen McGettigan.
Molly Bockhop led all scorers with 14 points, while Kailee Kamps and Cassie McCarthy netted 10 points apiece for the Braves. McCarthy also recorded four steals in the game.
Keegan Kamps contributed eight points, seven rebounds, five assists and a block. Amanda Adams added six points, five steals and four assists, and Jordyn Kamps scored six points.
Kaitlyn Schobert tallied four points and five rebounds off the bench for Belmont.
WIAA D5 REGIONAL FINAL
Potosi…… 12 14 13 21 - 60
Belmont… 13 15 15 13 - 56
Leading Scorers: Kailee Kamps 38, Cassie McCarthy 10, Keegan Kamps 5, Molly Bockhop 2, Jordyn Kamps 1.
WIAA D5 REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
Cashton… 7 10 7 10 - 34
Belmont… 6 23 8 18 - 55
Leading Scorers: Kailee Kamps 24, Keegan Kamps 12, Cassie McCarthy 10, Molly Bockhop 6, Jordyn Kamps 2, Amanda Adams 1.
WIAA D5 REGIONAL QUARTERFINAL
Cassville… 1 5 2 5 - 13
Belmont…. 18 26 10 10 - 64
Leading Scorers: Molly Bockhop 14, Kailee Kamps 10, Cassie McCarthy 10, Keegan Kamps 8, Amanda Adams 6, Jordyn Kamps 6, Allison Linneman 4, Katelyn Schobert 4, Kalyn Kamps 2.