IMS dropped a thriller in overtime to the HLV Warriors on Thursday night, 48-51. IMS could have lived without the first half and the third still wasn’t quite what they had hoped for. After three quarters of play, IMS found themselves down 16-28, a familiar position for a young team that has played most of the season from behind. But what unfolded over the next eight minutes of play was far from ordinary, as the small squad fought to keep their post season hopes alive.
IMS leading scorer Suzanna Yoder was held to just six points through the first three quarters, until the fourth when she put up 17 points and helped orchestrate a 26-point comeback to force the game into extra time. IMS opened the quarter with a 7-0 run, narrowing the gap to 23-28 with 5:30 to play. IMS and the Warriors traded buckets on the following possessions until two Calli Shaw free throws began a 15-4 IMS run spanning over the next four minutes.
Following a defensive stand, IMS got off a good look and the miss was picked up by Rubye Ney who found a wide-open Yoder for two more. Alyssa Hershberger then got in on the action with an aggressive drive to the basket that sent her to the line for a pair of free throws. On the very next play IMS came up with a much-needed stop and Yoder calmly brought the ball up the court and stepped into a wide open three. IMS stood their ground on the defensive end again, and a long rebound led to a 2-on-1 fast break. Yoder pushed the ball ahead and found a streaking Avery Blauvelt who finished at the rim for two. Blauvelt’s bucket pulled IMS within one, and with just over a minute to play in regulation the small squad forced yet another HLV turnover. Down 38-39, with :47 left in the game, IMS called a timeout to draw up a set.
IMS inbounded the ball at half court and on a well-executed play, Yoder split two defenders and knocked down the go-ahead floater. Yoder’s bucket gave IMS a 40-39 advantage and their first lead of the night. On the ensuing possession, HLV leader Brooke Kuesel drove the lane hard and finished through contact at the rim. Keusel went on to complete the three-point play at the line, and gave HLV a 42-40 edge with :30 left in regulation. IMS again brought the ball to half court and called their final timeout.
IMS looked to execute one final play, and a hard drive by Hershberger with six seconds left put her at the line for a pair of free throws. Hershberger stepped up and came through in the clutch, making both free throws to tie the game at 42-42 and send it into OT.
IMS and HLV traded buckets through the overtime period, until an HLV bucket followed by a free throw gave them a three-point advantage. IMS answered with a Yoder basket to pull it within one at 48-49, but Kuesel came through for HLV with a pair of free throws. With :08 left, down 48-51, IMS tried to get a good look from three for Yoder. At the buzzer, Yoder got a three off, but couldn’t get the well contested shot to drop and the small squad came up just short of completing the comeback.
“What an effort from our squad tonight,” IMS head coach Kari Heusinkveld said. “I couldn’t be more proud of this group than I am right now. To be down the way we were heading into the fourth and go on to put up 26, what a testament to the heart and dedication they have for each other and the game. We got great minutes and contributions from everyone. Rachel Miller gave us big minutes in her first game back after an injury, Payton Hart gave us a great defensive effort and Mia Graber did a nice job of cleaning up the glass. Everyone was involved and did something to positively impact the game. Very proud of this team effort.”
Yoder finished with a game high 25 points, four steals and three assists. Hershberger added 12 points to go with eight rebounds, and Shaw chipped in seven points and seven rebounds. Blauvelt chipped in three points and four rebounds, while Miller rounded out the scoring with one free throw. Graber tied for a team high eight boards.
IMS finishes at 0-19 on the year, but looks forward to returning seven players next season.