Coaches preach that games are won or lost at the free throw line and the Yankton-Aberdeen Central contest proved to be a prime example.
Aberdeen Central held on for a 60-56 Eastern South Dakota Conference win over Yankton on Friday at Golden Eagles Arena in high school girls' basketball. It marked Central's seventh straight win.
The Gazelles made 15 of 25 free throws in the game including 12 of 19 in the second half. Central went 19 of 24 from the charity stripe.
I don't remember the last time I walked out of the gym with Aberdeen at home having shot more free throws than they did, said Yankton coach Doug Pesicka. That just doesn't happen very often no matter where you play them but especially at home. I know there are a lot of plays that made the difference in the game but I feel like we left the win at the free throw line.
After trailing by as many as 11 points early in the fourth quarter, the Gazelles pulled to within two point in the last four minutes of the game.
They were really patient and they are a quick team so it's really difficult to guard them, said Central coach Dawn Seiler. They handle the ball well and are extremely good passing the ball. They made some outstanding passes. They pressed us a little bit and showed the game down and we started standing around.
The Golden Eagles led 53-42 with six minutes left in the game, but the Gazelles rattled off eight straight points for a 53-50 deficit with 4 minutes remaining.
Our defense lacked a little bit in the second half, said Central guard Megan Jordre. Once our offense picked up, it seemed like our defense dropped off. We can't have that. They use the dribble drive a lot and got to the free throw line a lot.
At the three-minute mark Central's Kelcy Schaunaman drained two free throws but Yankton's Chloe Cornemann answered with a field goal for a 55-52 score.
Both teams missed free throws and turned the ball over until Yankton's Emily Fedders tossed in a single free throw with 1 minutes left. Central's Kayla Schaunaman grabbed up the rebound on the missed second free throw but once again the Eagles turned the ball over. The Gazelles followed suit with a turnover. Kayla Schaunaman hit a free throw but on Yankton's next possession Kelsey Fitzgerald put back an offensive rebound for a 57-55 score with 30 seconds remaining.
Jordre hit one free throw before the Gazelles missed a field goal. Again, Kayla Schaunaman was there for the rebound. Central's scoring ended on two more free throws by Jordre.
I figured that I should get the ball in my hands, said Jordre. We were throwing some crazy passes and I just wanted to hold the ball. I don't think Yankton wanted to foul us because we shot good free throws the whole game. It doesn't really matter who has the ball but I'm kind of glad it was me.
We got in a little foul trouble and had to make some adjustments, said Seiler. I thought we got a little tentative defensively down the stretch. Our kids didn't want to put them on the foul line so we backed off a little bit. That's too good a team to back off.
Yankton was led by Cornemann with 16 points, and Fedders and Fitzgerald added 15 and 10 points respectively.
Central also had three players in double figure scoring. Kelcy Schaunaman led with 15 points. Samantha Knecht had 14 points and Jordre finished with 11.
Central does not return to action until Friday when the Golden Eagles host Mitchell in ESD action.
YANKTON: Chloe Cornemann 6-8 4-4 16, Tory Gross 1-4 2-5 4, Kelsey Fitzgerald 4-5 2-4 10, Emily Fedders 4-13 5-6 15, Sarah Ekeren 2-3 1-2 5, Jenn Granflaten 1-5 0-0 3, Audrey Fuks 1-3 0-0 2, Vanessa Rockne 0-2 1-4 1. Totals 19-43 15-25 56.
ABERDEEN CENTRAL: Tiffany Lundberg 2-2 0-0 4, Megan Jordre 2-6 6-8 11, Samantha Knecht 4-6 6-7 14, Brynn Flakus 2-4 2-2 6, Kayla Schaunaman 3-9 2-2 8, Kelsey Hannigan 0-3 0-0 0, Kelcy Schaunaman 6-9 3-5 15, Sara Niederbaumer 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 20-41 19-24 60.