It’s a situation all high school basketball players dream about from the time they are just learning to dribble – having the ball in their hands in the final moments of a game knowing the outcome rests on their shoulders and sending the crowd to its feet after sinking the winning basket.
Katie Hildebrandt was in that situation Jan. 9 when the McFarland High School girls basketball team took on visiting Brodhead in a Rock Valley Conference duel.
The Spartans trailed Brodhead 48-46 when junior Lindsey Lonigro fired a pass in the paint to Hildebrandt. The 6-foot junior stretched her long body toward the hoop and was fouled as she rimmed in a scoop shot to tie the game with 2.1 seconds remaining in overtime. Hildebrandt calmly hit the free throw to give McFarland a 49-48 victory.
It was a great comeback for the Spartans, which trailed 22-17 at halftime.
Lonigro’s layup tied the game 26-26 and a basket by Maddy Fortune in the next possession gave McFarland its first lead of the game with 12 minutes to play.
It was a back-and-forth contest after that. McFarland led 42-39 after two Lonigro free throws with 1:18 to play. But Cardinals freshmen Kiarra Moe connected on a 3-point shot and two free throws to put Brodhead back on top 44-42 with 26 seconds remaining.
Freshman Adrienne Kirch deadlocked the game again as her jump shot with 6.8 seconds to play tied the game 44-44. Moe missed on a last-second 3-point attempt to send the game into overtime.
Hildebrandt sank one of two free throws to put McFarland on top 45-44 with 2:56 left in overtime, but the Cardinals regained the lead on a jumper by sophomore Onnika Oliver.
McFarland caught a break with one minute to play when Kirch was fouled in the act of shooting.
She missed both free throws, but officials called a lane violation against Brodhead after her second attempt, giving Kirch another chance. This time, she hit the game-tying free throw.
Two free throws by Brodhead’s Abbie Dix put the Cardinals back in the lead 48-46 with 16.9 seconds remaining in overtime. Yet, Hildebrandt’s heroics gave McFarland the victory.
Free-throw shooting played a significant part in the outcome as McFarland made 15-of-17 attempts from the charity stripe. The Cardinals were good on 9-of-15 tries.
Kirch led the Spartans with 15 points including a pair of shots from the 3-point line. Hildebrandt and Lonigro both had 13 points. Dix led Brodhead with 21 points, Oliver had 11 including three shots from the arc and Moe also tallied 11 points.
McFarland, which improved to 5-6 overall and 5-3 in the conference, plays Jan. 17 in a Rock Valley match at Jefferson with tipoff at 7:15 p.m.