Weber’s last-second shot lifts Rebels past East Marshall
LE GRAND – Gladbrook-Reinbeck coach Eric Crandall decided to tinker with his starting lineup midway through the season.
He inserted Amber Berendes into the starting five and that pushed Hayley Weber to the bench during the opening minutes of the game.
Weber, a sophomore, handled the change like a veteran and continues to be one of the Rebels’ top scoring options.
And with the game on the line against East Marshall on Friday night, Weber came up with the biggest bucket of her young career when she took the ball to the hoop in closing seconds and converted a game-winning shot in the lane with 1.3 seconds to play that gave her Rebels’ a 57-55 road win over the Mustangs.
“She has not hung her head at all and has always been ready to go,” Crandall said. “She has been in double-figures most of those games she doesn’t start anyway and is a good change of pace off the bench.”
The bucket for Weber was her 10th point of the game as the Rebels ended a three-game losing streak and moved up into a tie with East Marshall in the North Iowa Cedar League West Division standings in the process.
It was the seventh loss in the last eight games for the Mustangs, who got a career-high 29 points from Ashley Allen.
“We never had a specific person planned out. I didn’t see any other possibilities,” said Weber, who is the Rebels’ leading scorer on the year. “I just went for it. It was exciting. I didn’t expect that.”
The Rebels (8-11, 5-9) had control of the game in the first half, leading by as many as eight in the first quarter.
East Marshall (5-15, 5-9) used a big third quarter to turn the tide, outscoring G-R 16-7. The Mustangs led 49-45 heading into the fourth quarter and led by four with 2:56 to play but did not score the rest of the way.
“The mental toughness just isn’t there at this point. We just make poor decisions in the big spots,” East Marshall coach Missy Pieters said. “We can go on the big runs, but we also play ourselves or shoot ourselves out of the game. We are not skilled enough to run a stall game. It takes time and this team is not used to a lot of success.”
Allen was spectacular for the Mustangs in the loss. She took advantage of some nice passes from Mariah Fritz in the opening quarter, scoring 15 of the team’s 17 first-quarter points. She had 24 at the break before Taylor Fricke, the Mustangs’ leading scorer, provided some assistance in the second half.
East Marshall used an 11-0 run midway through the third quarter to turn a three-point deficit into an eight-point lead. But G-R quickly came back with four quick points in the final 20 seconds to make the margin manageable heading into the final frame.
“That was a key swing for us,” Crandall said. “I wanted to save our legs a little bit in the third quarter so we didn’t press.
“We were aggressive going to the hoop off their turnovers late in the fourth. I don’t like to foul unless I have to and we did what we had to do to get back in the game.”
Fricke and Allen each hit a pair of free throws to give the Mustangs a six-point lead with 5:50 to play in the game. Hannah Christopher and Nicole Adair then scored back-to-back buckets to trim the Rebel deficit to two before two more freebies by Fricke pushed it back to four.
Christopher got fouled, converted the bucket and hit the free throw to pull the visitors within one with 1:20 to play in the game and then Weber hit 1-of-2 from the line to even the score with 41.7 seconds on the clock.
East Marshall had a chance to take the lead on its final possession but turned it over. That allowed the Rebels to call timeout and draw up one final play with 10 seconds to go.
Weber received the ball at the top of the key and went straight to the basket and drilled the short shot inside the lane with 1.3 to go.
“We barely got the ball in. I thought they might foul us because they only had five team fouls,” Crandall said. “It was just a simple dribble drive. That was nothing I really did. The clock was winding down and she just took it to the hoop.”
Christopher led the Rebels with 16 points, while Adair added 12 and Berendes and Weber each finished with 10. Fricke scored 15 for the Mustangs to compliment Allen’s career-night.
“We just wanted a good defensive stop,” said Pieters of the final play. “We knew they’d probably be dribble penetrating. Everyone needed to be aware and be in help side. I was hoping we wouldn’t give up a layup and allow them to hit a lower-percentage shot. We did well for the most part, we just needed one more extra effort to get it done.”
East Marshall won the first meeting 49-48 in Reinbeck after Allen, Fricke and Fritz all finished in double-figures.