Polowy lifts Blair Oaks past Harrisburg

In girls basketball

WARDSVILLE, Mo. — LeeAnn Polowy wasn’t going to let her team lose.

No matter what, the Blair Oaks senior guard was going to find a way to win on Senior Night.

Down two points with less than a minute to play, Polowy delivered a traditional three-point play to lift the Lady Falcons past the Harrisburg Lady Bulldogs 56-52 on Tuesday night.

“I have a lot more confidence at the end of the game, those shots, than in the middle stretches,” Polowy said. “At the end of the game I know any way, we’re going to find a way to win. I don’t care how I’ve been shooting the first half or the second half or how I’ve been shooting at all. I’m going to get the ball in the hole, no doubt about it. That’s my mentality.”

Polowy, a Missouri State recruit, was just 1-for-9 from the field in the second half before the game-winning play.

Blair Oaks called a timeout with 51 seconds left down 52-50. Figuring Harrisburg would key on Polowy, Lady Falcons head coach Leroy Bernskoetter decided to use her as a decoy.

“Lauren (Viessman) and Lee were going to set the screen (on Sara Jones on the inbounds play),” Bernskoetter said. “Then after she sets the screen she steps back and hopefully they lose her.

“She was a decoy at first. … Then we came back to her. So it kind of worked because it allowed her to get open. And she finished.”

That she did. Polowy drove right and put up a shot through contact, getting the shooter’s touch as the ball rimmed in.

“I love shooting 3s obviously,” Polowy said. “I was initially looking for a 3 because I thought they were going to sag off. She came out hard, so I gave her a fake and that right side was open. Two people came up and fouled me like they had been all night. They just called it and it went in. It was huge getting that roll, which I hadn’t gotten all game, so that was nice.”

Blair Oaks came up with two stops to end the game, as Jones hit two free throws and Viessman connected on one to seal the deal.

“It just is a great feel-good win for our team going into districts,” Polowy said. “Having those close games at this point in the season is critical. If we would have had a blowout like we were supposed to have, that doesn’t help us at all. Having a close game going into districts and getting that win, it just helps you feel better and it helps you grow as a team.”

Polowy’s late heroics only became necessary after Harrisburg staged a late rally. Down 50-44 with 4:43 left, the Lady Bulldogs rattled off the next eight points.

Harrisburg went inside to Chloe Franklin and Bailey Ivicsics, as the duo combined for all eight of those points. In fact, the pair accounted for accounted for all 14 points in the fourth quarter for Harrisburg.

“We struggled with their two-man game,” Bernskoetter said. “They picked on us. We were struggling.”

With Blair Oaks in a drought, Polowy came up in the clutch.

“I love it,” she said. “I always want to have the ball in my hands.”

Polowy tallied a game-high 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting, while Jones added 13 points.

Ivicsics led Harrisburg (14-10) with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go with eight rebounds. Franklin added 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Hailey Lowrey scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half on four 3-pointers.

Blair Oaks went with an all-senior lineup to begin the game. Paige Siebeneck, Polowy, Alyson Jones, Taylor Thurston and Amanda Emerson were in the starting lineup. A sixth senior and a regular starter, Sara Jones, came in off the bench.

Blair Oaks found itself down 17-15 after one quarter, but not before Alyson Jones connected on a 3 and a long jumper for five points. Four of the six seniors scored in the game.

“It wasn’t all that bad there,” Bernskoetter said. “They got in a few minutes. They’ve put in their years and they’re a good bunch of girls. Wish we could have got them a little more time, but they got in last night (against Versailles) some. Hopefully there’s some more nights they can get in yet.”

Tied at 19 early in the second quarter, Blair Oaks used an 8-0 surge to take control before leading 32-27 at halftime. The Lady Falcons’ biggest advantage came at 38-27 early in the third period. Blair Oaks held a 44-38 edge heading into the final stanza.

Blair Oaks (17-7) travels Thursday to California.

Blair Oaks won the JV game 46-44 in triple overtime. Macyn Wilbers paced the winners with 12 points.

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