BLANCHARD — So close.
The Montabella girls basketball team was five seconds away from handing Lincoln Alcona their first loss of the season, but a three-pointer at the buzzer by Karina Cole gave the Tigers a 40-38 win Saturday night.
Mustang center Sarah Miller had given her team a one-point lead after making one of two free throws with seven seconds left. After an Alcona (4-0) timeout, Cole went down the right sideline and put up a desperation three that was all net.
“Unfortunately the shot went in instead of rimming out,” Montabella coach Terry Larsen said. “We were hoping it wouldn’t get that close but it did.”
The first quarter was mostly Montabella (3-3), as they jumped out to a quick lead only to see Cole almost tie the game herself with six points. At the end of the first quarter it was 10-7 Alcona.
“We got a little over-agressive and got into some foul trouble in the first quarter, which didn’t help at all,” Larsen said. “We had to sit some girls that normally would have been in there. The rest of the team held us close.”
The Mustangs outscored the Tigers 11-10 in the second quarter to trail by just two at the half, but they got nine of their 11 in the last four minutes of the period.
“A lot of that was foul trouble, girls being out of position,” Larsen said. “It takes a while for everyone to get used to playing where they’re at. That’s why it took a while to get our feet back under us.
“We got to the second half, we were healthy again as far as fouls because no one had three,” Larsen said. “We just played our game.”
However, Montabella made just seven field goals in the second half and none in the final 2:22 of the game after Gabby Larson put in a rebound to give the Mustangs a 36-33 lead.
In fact, the Mustangs managed just two free throws in that 2:22 and both of those came within the last 40 seconds.
“The whole game was tight the entire way,” Larsen said. “They (Alcona) are a great team. That’s why they haven’t been beat yet.”
Cole finished with 21 of Alcona’s 40 points.
“That No. 12 (Cole), she’s a great shooter,” Larsen said. “She’s just a sophomore.”
Kayla Rasmussen added 11 more for the Tigers.
The Mustangs were led by Miller with 14 and Taylor Smith with 10.
“I think this game (Saturday night), even though it hurts, is going to help us in the (district) tournament,” Larsen said. “You have to be in close games to win close games. That’s what we’re geared toward, getting better for the tournament.”
Montabella won’t have much time to think about the loss, as they play again today at Chippewa Hills against the Warriors.