For Mountainside, it was an end dreams are made of. For Sherwood, it was simply a nightmare.
Trailing by three with just 22 seconds remaining, Mavericks' senior guard Carly Stone took a pass from fellow senior Halle Hageman near the top of the key, released and splashed the game-tying shot, then helped guide Mountainside to a 55-45 overtime victory over the Bowmen Tuesday night, Dec. 21, at Sherwood High School.
"It was a huge shot," Mountainside head coach Glen Lee said. "Halle (Hageman) trusted her to hit that shot. We had Polly (Raugust) in the corner and Halle could've taken it herself, but it was a good decision and a great shot."
Sherwood (2-5) appeared to have the game iced for most of the second half, taking a nine point lead to the fourth quarter and leading by three with 22 seconds and a free throw to come. But when the Bowmen's charity attempt missed its mark, the scene was set for Stone's equalizer, along with what was a dominating Mountainside overtime performance.
The Bowmen played the final 1:49 of regulation and overtime without standout post Ava Heiden who fouled-out with her team ahead 42-39. The 6-foot-4 sophomore was dominant on both ends of the floor, scoring 20 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and owning the paint by way of either blocking or changing Mountainside shots.
Sherwood head coach Lauren Howard was noticeably â€“ and rightfully so â€“ frustrated in defeat, and acknowledged her teams' shortcomings in the absence of undoubtedly their best player.
"Losing her (Heiden) was huge," she said. "We're working on building up our other players on the court, but our mindset right now is that she's our only scorer, so when she's not on the court we don't really know what to do. We've worked on that and we tried our best, but at the end of the day we've got to have more girls be aggressive and takeover that role."
Like Heiden, Mountainside's Hageman was a handful offensively, scoring a game high 23 points while grabbing four boards. Lee spoke glowingly of the senior guard after the game and spoke to all she brings to the table both individually and for the team.
"She's phenomenal," he said. "She's been our floor leader for the last four years. She pushes the tempo, scores, delivers assists and is one of our leading rebounder. She's going to be leave some big shoes to fill next year."
Hageman score nine of her team's first 14 points en route to an early 14-7 lead, and hit the half's final basket to put the Mavericks (4-2) ahead 22-7 at the halftime break. But Heiden scored 10 first-half points and added eight more in the third quarter to spark a 20-6 Sherwood run to give the Bowmen a 37-28 lead headed to the fourth quarter. But Mountainside scraped their way back as the freshman post repeatedly sat as the result of foul trouble, and after six straight Shaylee Gonzalez points cut the lead to two, it was apparent things were about to change in the wake of Heiden's disqualification.
"It turned into a guard game," Lee said, "And I like our chances in that spot."
The loss was the fourth straight for Sherwood, all of which were by either two points or as the result of overtime. Howard acknowledged their struggles at the end of games and pointed to their youth as one of the primary reasons for such, but at the same time said it's something they need to fix and said they've obviously prioritized it as the league schedule approaches.
"We get stressed out in those close game situations and just can't seem to take care of the ball," she said. "We have a very young team and tend to rush things, so we've got to learn to slow down and take our time if we want to be successful in those moments."
Mountainside scorers included: Hageman 23, Stone 14, Gonzalez 10, Aurelia Mafinejad 4, Abigail Crawshaw 2, Lindsey Wilson 2.
Sherwood scorers included: Heiden 20, Mandie Jensen 8, Paige Bittner 7, Sabrina Flowers 6, Jaclyn Barritt 4.
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