The Fatima Lady Comets have gone toe-to-toe with two of the best teams in the state. They just don't have anything to show for it.
A day after falling just short against St. Joseph Benton in the opening round, Fatima dropped a 51-47 overtime decision to Eureka in the loser's bracket semifinals of the State Farm Holiday Hoops Invitational on Saturday afternoon at Rackers Fieldhouse.
"It's a tough one to swallow," Fatima head coach Dustin Hays said. "Once again you take a Eureka team that scored 67 points on Hickman the night before and you hold them to 45 in regulation. They come out and they work so hard. They deserve better than that loss.
"We came here to fight and we came here to win. I told you that the first day, that we came here to win. That's the disappointing part.
"The encouraging part is we've played two of the top teams in this tournament, two of the top teams in the state, and we've been in it to the very end."
It was the same story for Fatima. Build a halftime lead only to give away with poor execution down the stretch.
The Lady Comets led 14-9 after one quarter and took a 29-24 edge into halftime.
"The girls come out ready to play," Hays said. "Once again, we were fired up. I know a lot of people will probably look at this and didn't give us much of a shot, but I told the girls they can compete with anybody, and they came out ready to play and got on top of them again. Once again we wasted another first-half lead."
Just like Friday, when Fatima owned a seven-point halftime lead against Benton, the Lady Comets couldn't hold on Saturday.
"We just have to carry it over to the second half," Hays said. "We have to switch something up at halftime. I don't know, I might have to do a little dance or something to get them going. We have to keep that intensity from the first half to the second half."
Eureka, the fifth-ranked team in Class 5, fought back to knot the game at 37 entering the final period.
Fatima scored the first five points of the fourth quarter, as Sammey Bunch drilled a long jumper followed by a 3-pointer. The Lady Comets took a 45-41 lead on a 3 from Morgan Brandt with 3:20 left in regulation. They wouldn't score again until overtime.
Kelsey Tepen and Lindsey McCoy both canned a pair of free throws to tie the game at 45 with 2:36 remaining.
Fatima held possession with 30 seconds remaining but missed a layup with less than 10 seconds to go. Eureka raced down the court, only to miss a shot just before the buzzer, sending the game to overtime tied at 45.
"We have to learn to execute with a lead," Hays said.
Fatima scored the first points of the extra session on a layup from Brandt with 2:58 remaining. The Lady Comets couldn't find the basket again.
Grace Archambault knotted the game at 47 with 2:35 left before a jumper from McCoy gave Eureka the lead for good with 1:25 left. Although Eureka went just 2-of-7 from the foul line in the overtime period, it was enough to secure the win.
Fatima went 1-for-8 from the floor in the extra session with three turnovers, including one when the Lady Comets had the ball down 50-47 with 42 seconds left.
"Once again, kind of the same story as (Friday) night," Hays said. "... We have to execute better down the stretch. That's including making shots, that's including taking care of the ball."
Brandt led all scorers with 24 points on 10-of-24 shooting. Kate Massman pulled down 11 rebounds for the Lady Comets.
Tepen paced Eureka with 13 points.
Eureka (7-1) will face Helias in the fifth-place game at 3 p.m. today at Rackers Fieldhouse.
Fatima (4-3) will take on Southeast from Oklahoma City, Okla., in the seventh-place game at 1:30 p.m.