What had been a hard-fought but low-scoring affair turned quickly in the final few minutes, as a 10-0 run by Howards Grove over the final 2:09 led to a 44-37 victory over a stunned Durand team in a WIAA Division 4 Girls Basketball state semi-final.
Howards Grove jumped out quickly in the contest, holding a 6-0 lead just a little over three minutes into the action, and still up by five with under four minutes to play in the first half.
Durand would battle back however, finally taking the lead at 24-23 on an Emily Annis jumper with 13:50 remaining in the second half. The Panthers would stretch their advantage to as many as six points, and still held a 37-34 lead with 2:21 remaining in the game.
Howards Grove answered on an Addisyn Gerber jumper 12 seconds later, but still found themselves down by one point as the clock ticked under one minute remaining, though Brittany Stauss rebounded a missed free throw to keep the ball in the hands of the Tigers.
That's when all heck broke out. With 39 seconds left, Stauss made a short jumper and was fouled. On the ensuing free throw, the ball bounced back to Stauss, who scored on a putback for a four-point possession and three-point lead.
Durand missed a three-pointer, and would send Howards Grove's Kaitlyn Near to the free throw line with 18 seconds left. In a case of deja vu, Near would miss the freebie only to rebound and score on a putback. Brittany Schaller would score on a steal to close out the game, as Howards Grove scored eight points in the final 39 seconds.
Addisyn Gerber led three Howards Grove players in double figures with 13, while Schaller added 12 and Stauss chipped in with 11. Ambree Schlosser led Durand with 11 points, though she was held to just three of 16 shooting as the Panthers finished 30% from the field.
What had been a close game in the first half, with the lead changing hands several times, turned into a bit of a blowout at the end, with Aquinas scoring a 56-36 victory over Shiocton in a Division 4 state semi-final game at the Resch Center.
The teams battled back-and-forth in the first 13 minutes of the game, with five lead changes during that time. However, after a Kayla Bahr three-pointer put Aquinas up 17-15 with 5:34 remaining, the Blugolds would never relinquish the advantage, going on a 12-4 run to close the half and take a 26-19 advantage to the break.
The lead swelled to 14 points less than four minutes into the second half, but Shiocton chipped away and got it to just seven with 9:41 left in the game. Aquinas answered with an 8-0 run and pulled away in the final minutes.
Neither team shot particularly well, with Shiocton holding a slight edge in shooting percentage, but 19 Chiefs turnovers and 15 offensive rebounds from Aquinas led to 20 more shots for the Blugolds.
Freshman Lexi Denarski, the daughter of head coach Dan Donarski, led the way for Aquinas with 14 points, while Kyah Steiner had 13 and Jessa Peterson 10.
Jordan Elliot led all Shiocton players with 14 points.
Aquinas is looking for its first WIAA state title on Saturday against Howards Grove.
Attendance for the Thursday evening Division 4 session was 4,419.