Prep girls basketball: Lady Tigers edge Bobcats, 42-41

There are 32 minutes of regulation in a high school varsity basketball game.

The Marietta Lady Tigers were thankful for those final two minutes in Wednesday’s game against Cambridge at Sutton Gym, as their first lead of the game came on a pair of Brittany Deskins free throws with 1 minute, 44 seconds to go in the final period. The Lady Tigers were able to hold on for the final minute-and-a-half to steal a 42-41 victory away from the Lady Bobcats.

“Somehow we ended up with more points than (Cambridge) did,” laughed Marietta head coach Mark Hannuksela. “I’m not quite sure how that happened.

“We just kept playing. I don’t think we really focused too much on the score or the situation. We just kept playing.”

Marietta (13-4, 7-3) trailed 37-32 with 4:44 left in the contest when Lain Weppler used a nice head-fake to get open on a jump-shot and cut it to 37-34. Kiersten Taylor answered with a layup on the other end, but two free throws from Weppler brought it back to a 3-point game.

Following a Cambridge turnover at the 2:51 mark, Weppler put in another basket to cut it to a 1-point game, 39-38.

On its next possession Cambridge coughed it up again, as Deskins came up with a steal and was fouled with 1:44 left. Deskins drained 2-of-2 at the foul line to put the Tigers ahead for the first time in the game, 40-39.

Following another Bobcats turnover, Deskins was fouled again and this time split the two freebies to make it a 2-point game with 1:07 remaining.

Like deja vu, Cambridge threw it away again and fouled Deskins, who hit 1-of-2 at the line to give Marietta a 42-39 cushion with 48 seconds to play.

Hallie Stocker responded by putting back her own miss for the Bobcats to cut their deficit to one. Cambridge elected to foul Deskins again, but this time the junior was unable to connect, missing both attempts and giving the Bobcats life.

Marietta’s defense came up big, though, as Breanna Tetirick missed a jumper that would have given Cambridge the lead. Jump-ball was called on the rebound attempt, with the possession arrow pointing towards the Tigers.

Lauren Martin was fouled on the inbound pass with 3 seconds left. Martin missed both foul shots, but Cambridge stepped out of bounds on the rebound to turn it over one last time and seal the deal for Marietta.

“Coach (Steve) Denton made a good point in the locker room. When we were mounting our comeback, we played like we didn’t expect to lose,” Hannuksela said. “They just kind of had that air about them that they didn’t expect to lose.”

It was a unique game for Marietta, in the sense that no player scored in double figures. Deskins and Weppler led with eight apiece, Taylor Smith scored seven, Martin and Alle Moore each had six while Starr Johnson added five.

Overall, the orange and black was 16-for-41 (39 percent) from the floor.

“We don’t have any egos. That’s one of our strengths, no question,” Hannuksela said. “We try to get the ball to people who are open, and I’m proud of them for that.”

Cambridge was led by Stocker’s 15 markers. The Bobcats shot 19-for-47 (40.4 percent) and out-rebounded the Tigers 28-20 in the contest.

A drive and basket by Smith cut Cambridge’s lead to 10-8 early on, but the Bobcats scored the final six points of the opening quarter to take a 16-8 lead.

A layup by Taylor gave Cambridge its biggest lead of the game, 22-14, midway through the second period, but a jumper by Smith, layups by Deskins and Martin and a pair of free throws by Weppler fueled an 8-0 run that tied the game up with 30 seconds left in the first half. Stocker knocked down a basket just before the horn to give Cambridge a 24-22 lead at halftime.

The Bobcats went up 28-22 early in the third, but Smith hit the only 3-pointer of the game to cut the deficit in half. Later, Cambridge stretched its lead to seven, but a long 2-pointer by Kallee Dowler and a basket by Moore made it 35-31 going into the final period.

The “Pink Game” was played to help raise money to fight cancer. It’s a game the Lady Tigers have been highly anticipating, which may have attributed to some early jitters.

“Our players have been looking forward to this game for a week or so,” Hannuksela said. “We might’ve been a little over-hyped.”

The Lady Tigers travel to Dover Saturday to take on the Tornadoes. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.