By Mike Phillips
With thoughts of last year’s crushing 38-37 loss to the Crest Ridge Lady Cougars at the 2011 W-K Holiday Shootout still fresh in their memories, the Cole Camp Lady Bluebirds remained composed and clipped the Lady Cougars 47-46 Monday night in the 2012 W-K Holiday Shootout at State Fair Community College.
In last year’s contest, Cole Camp senior Shelby Rice fouled Mel Branscom at mid-court with less than a second left and the score tied 37-37. Branscom went to the other end and made the first free throw to give Crest Ridge the win.
When asked if last year’s debacle was on her players’ minds, Cole Camp Coach Brooke Ogle cringed but giggled.
“Truthfully at practice last night, we talked about game situations,” said Ogle. “(Senior) Emily Pritzel told the girls that we can’t let last-second mistakes beat us.”
Pritzel played a huge role in the win for Cole Camp, 4-5 on the season. Pritzel calmly swished two free throws with five seconds left, the first tied the game at 46-46 and the second one won it.
“I was thinking, oh my we still have five seconds left,” said Ogle. “Last year we had less than a second and lost.”
Pritzel scored a game-high 18 points and made six of seven from the free throw line. Pritzel scored 12 points in the second half.
“Emily has really stepped it up for us,” sad Ogle. “We lost Meghan Pitts in the second game of the season to a torn MCL and ACL. Emily has filled in well and it’s like we lost another bench player because I have used several players off the bench to fill in when Emily moved to the post.”
Another player who had a big game for Cole Camp was sophomore Kaylee Kestner, who had the task of defensively stopping Branscom in the Lady Bluebird man-to-man along with senior Mason Harms.
Branscom led Crest Ridge with 17 points, but only had five in the second half.
Cole Camp had to battle back from a 28-17 halftime disadvantage and scored just six points in the second quarter.
Cole Camp became more patient in the second half and looked to get the ball inside to Pritzel instead of firing the ball up from the perimeter. Pritzel led the inside attack with six third-quarter points and Kaleena Logan tallied six of her 12 points in the third quarter as Cole Camp closed within 37-34 after three periods.
Crest Ridge had no answer for Pritzel. The 6-foot junior scored eight points including the tying and game-winning free throws.
“Those were two big free throws that Emily made,” said Ogle, whose team is hitting 70 percent from the line this season. Cole Camp made nine of 12 in the game (75 percent).
Cole Camp 74, Crest Ridge 54
Don’t let the final score fool you. It wasn’t nearly that close.
Cole Camp Coach Tom Ward had some mercy for the Cougars, playing his starters in the first and third quarters. Otherwise, the Cole Camp reserves got plenty of time as all 13 players on the roster saw action in the rout.
Cole Camp, who gunned in eight three pointers, led 22-7 at the end of the first quarter, but Crest Ridge trimmed the gap to 28-23 at the half against the Cole Camp reserves.
Not to worry. With the starters back on the floor to start the second half, the Bluebirds poured in 34 points in eight minutes to blow out the Cougars 62-35. Cole Camp’s Gunner Williams fired in three treys in the third quarter. Michael Brockman had two of his four in the 34-point explosion.
The game was never in doubt the rest of the way. Even Cole Camp’s second unit got some confidence and put some points on the board in the fourth quarter. Cole Camp got 15 points from its bench in the game.
Oelrichs led Cole Camp with 18 points. Brockman added 16 with four treys and Williams 11 with three treys and Karstan Lucchini 10. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.