Late free throws send Calvary past Linn

The Calvary Lady Lions had an uncharacteristic performance from the free-throw line in the first three quarters.

But they came through when it mattered most.

Calvary scored six of its last eight points from the line to hold off a late comeback by Linn as the Lady Lions went on to claim a 37-29 victory against the Lady Wildcats on Tuesday night.

“Our free-throw percentage the whole season has been great,” Calvary coach Jonathan Kueck said. “It was nice to be able to hit some in the clutch.”

Calvary (6-8) was just 2-of-9 from the line in the first three quarters, but the Lady Lions made up for it by going 6-of-9 in the final four minutes to pull away from Linn, which rallied from a 14-point deficit early in the fourth quarter.

“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Linn coach Renee Heidger said. “I thought we were right there, but we had a couple things that didn’t work out for us and we had to start fouling and they hit their free throws.”

Calvary took a 23-9 lead — its biggest of the night — with 4:42 left in the third quarter, but the Lady Wildcats (0-9) didn’t go away quietly.

Linn, which suffered a 36-25 loss to the Lady Lions on Jan. 9 in the Calvary Tournament, went on a 13-1 run to cut its deficit to two with 6:20 left in the game.

“We didn’t do a good job protecting the ball,” Kueck said. “We’d get rid of it too quickly or we’d turn it over. At the same time that was happening, they hit their shots. A combination of those two things and they were able to come to within two.”

Calvary went slightly less than seven minutes without a field goal until Brooke Rollins knocked down a 3-pointer with 5:57 left in the fourth quarter to give the Lady Lions a 27-22 lead.

Linn was able to stay within five points for the next two minutes, but Calvary finished the game on a 7-2 run to put the Lady Wildcats away.

“We finally started hitting a couple to get us back in it,” Heidger said. “Defensively, we made it one-and-done. That’s the goal you have to go for — you have to finish your defense with a rebound. When we didn’t do that later on, that’s when they started to get that lead back.”

Linn used a diamond-and-one defense to try to slow up Kara Wehmeyer, who scored 13 points against the Lady Wildcats the first time the teams met.

“I think that was our big goal was to try to shut her down,” Heidger said. “Taking her out of the offense gave us a chance.”

Wehmeyer, who pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds, hit three free throws in the final period to account for all her points, but Calvary was able to get offensive production from elsewhere.

Becca Thompson scored a game-high 15 points, while Emily Hager added nine — five in the fourth quarter — to lead Calvary, which was 14-of-58 from the field.

“We had to change things up a little bit,” Kueck said. “They decided to do a (diamond-and one) and we weren’t used to that.”

The Lady Lions also used a strong defensive effort to keep Linn off the scoreboard early.

Calvary jumped out to a 8-4 lead after the first quarter and took a 17-8 advantage into the third quarter, while limiting Linn to two field goals in the first half.

“First half, we could not hit the broad side of the barn,” Heidger said. “We were just cold. We’re not the greatest shooters in the world, but that’s the coldest I’ve seen us.”

Lyndsi Vaughan scored 13 points and Kristen Steinbeck added eight to lead the Lady Wildcats, who were 10-of-45 from the field.

Calvary will host Wellsville-Middletown on Friday night.

The Calvary boys JV team claimed a 51-41 victory against the Linn freshman team in the opener Tuesday night.

Ross Schlichting scored 11 points, while Colin Bernskoetter and Cal Kolzow each chipped in with 10 to lead Calvary.

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