Lady Eagles get big OT win

Jan. 13—With just three games left in the regular season, the Zionsville girls basketball team wanted to get back on track Friday night when they hosted Noblesville.

What resulted was a back-and-forth instant classic, that saw the Lady Eagles defeat the Millers 71-66 in overtime to keep their conference title hopes alive.

"We got off to a great start, then they came back and played a heck of a second quarter," Zionsville head coach Andy Maguire said. "We came out a little slow and were down nine in the third quarter, but we kept battling and hung in there. This was a huge win for us, especially after Tuesday night."

Zionsville entered the fourth quarter down nine.

But a catch-and-release 3 from Allie Caldwell tied the game at 58 with 23.6 to go.

Noblesville had a chance to retake the lead with 7.4 seconds to go, but missed both free throws. Faith Leedy then had a chance at the buzzer, but her shot at the rim was blocked sending the game to OT.

"They missed the two free throws so we had a chance and Faith is the best on our team in getting to the rim quickly," Maguire said. "She did a good job of getting a chance, but they defended it well. We finished the fourth quarter really well and got a little luck with the free throws."

It was the free-throw line that helped seal the deal for the Lady Eagles in overtime.

After the teams traded early buckets, Kenzie Chapman hit a 3 to put the Eagles up 66-63. Noblesville split a pair at the line, but Caldwell was fouled and hit both to give the Eagles a four-point advantage.

Noblesville was able to get within two at 68-66, but Emma Haan and Caldwell hit free throws to seal the win.

"We were able to gain a little control, and then it was kind of a free-throw contest," Maguire said. "Our girls did a great job there, hitting seven of eight in overtime. It was just a really big win for us."

Early on, the teams traded dominate periods.

Zionsville jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first quarter, hitting six 3-pointers.

But the Millers came storming back in the second quarter, taking a 34-33 lead into the locker room.

Then, for the second-straight game, the third quarter was unkind to the Lady Eagles.

The Millers pushed their lead to nine by the end of the quarter, and had Zionsville on the ropes.

"I'm not really sure why (third quarters have been an issue)," Maguire said. "The thing with tonight was, we really didn't get a lot of shots. We struggled with turnovers and that cut down on our chances."

But the fourth quarter was a different story.

Zionsville got a big push from Brooke Karesh inside, as she scored seven of her nine points in the quarter.

Zionsville also got a big 3-pointer from Faith Leedy to get them within striking distance, setting up the final stretch.

"We attacked the basket better in the fourth quarter," Maguire said. "Brooke Karesh had a tremendous quarter a big And-1. That really gave us a big boost. Faith had a really good game, hitting five 3s and those were all big."

Caldwell had 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Eagles.

Leedy had 15 points, five rebounds and four assists, with Haan (12 points) and Chapman (12 points) also reaching double figures.

Karesh had nine points and Caroline Sampson adding six, both with seven rebounds.

"For us, with the types of teams we play, we want to have four kids in double figures," Maguire said. "We have to have to balance and move the ball. Of course it's better when you shoot well, and we hit 15 3s today, but it was just a great game with two teams playing really hard."

Next up for Zionsville is a trip to HSE next Friday.

The Royals are No. 1 in the state, with no losses in the conference. Zionsville is 4-1 in the conference.

"We know its a big game in the conference, they don't have a conference loss, but if we take care of our business we can both be 6-1," Maguire said. "Winning conference is a goal of ours. HSE has some really good players. (Maya) Makalusky is a really good player, but they have a lot of solid pieces. We have to play like we did tonight, be on our game and be ready to execute on both ends of the floor."

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.