With a little less than a minute remaining Monday night, the Camdenton Lady Lakers were headed to the free-throw line tied at 53 with the Helias Lady Crusaders.
Through the first 31-plus minutes, the Lady Lakers were just 5-of-10 from the stripe. But under game-deciding pressure, Camdenton's Shelby Kurtz excelled at the line, hitting all six of her attempts in the last :49.5 as the Lady Lakers topped the Lady Crusaders 59-53 at Rackers Fieldhouse.
"They did everything they needed to do to win that ballgame," Helias coach Alan Lepper said. "And in the last 21/2 quarters, we did just about everything we could to lose it."
Camdenton started the game with a quick pace, which was just fine with Helias. The Lady Crusaders trailed 7-6 before rattling off nine unanswered points on their way to a 21-10 lead after the first quarter.
"That is absolutely what we wanted to do in the ballgame," Lepper said. "It's on all of us, the players and the coaches, to keep that kind of enthusiasm and energy on the floor."
The Lady Lakers got out of their pressure defense at the start of the second quarter and slowly whittled away at the lead for the Lady Crusaders. Helias led by 13 after a 3-pointer by Kylie Bernskoetter with 5:10 to go before halftime. But Camdenton turned back up the defensive pressure and outscored Helias 10-3 the rest of the quarter and trailed 31-25 at the half.
"We just quit doing what made us successful," Lepper said. "They starting putting pressure on us again and we couldn't handle the press."
The Lady Lakers continued their run at the start of the third quarter. A jumper by Megan Vest gave Camdenton its first lead since early in the first quarter at 35-33 with 4:50 left. The two teams traded points the remainder of the quarter, which ended with Helias holding a 43-42 advantage.
Camdenton opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run in the first 2:40 to take a 50-45 lead. The run was capped by a putback from Payton Kincaid, Camdenton's fourth offensive rebound of the possession.
The Lady Lakers outrebounded the Lady Crusaders 38-22 in the game.
"We just have to get better at rebounding," Lepper said. "We cannot give up that many shots at the rim on defense, they got so many second-chance points.
"Teams that want to rebound and be aggressive are going to beat us if we don't fix that part. It's determination, it's hustle, it's not letting the other team get it. And that starts at practice."
Helias came back with an 8-2 run of its own, with Bernskoetter hitting a layup to give the Lady Crusaders a 53-52 lead with 1:45 remaining. Biance Scott converted on one of two free throws with 1:36 left to pull Camdenton into a tie at 53 with 1:36 left.
Kurtz then made 6-of-6 at the stripe to ice Camdenton's six-point victory. The final margin was Camdenton's biggest lead of the game.
Kurtz had a game-high 19 points for Camdenton (3-4), while Elle Turner added 12.
Bernskoetter finished with 18 points to pace Helias (4-5). Rylee Kolb added 14.
Monday night was the start of a busy week for the Lady Crusaders. Helias will play tonight at Class 4 No. 3 Rolla before hosting Class 3 No. 1 Strafford on Thursday night.
In Monday's JV game, Helias posted a 54-20 victory against Camdenton. Ella Meyer paced the Lady Crusaders (5-1) with 11 points.