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We dubbed the Howards Grove girls basketball team the Queens of Comeback at the 2017 State Tournament, and for good reason. In a Division 4 semi-final against Durand, the Tigers would trailed by as many as six points in the second half and were still behind by a point with 39 seconds left when all heck broke out.
Olivia Stauss made a short jumper and was fouled. On the ensuing free throw, the ball bounced back to Stauss, who scored on a put-back 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 to win 44-37.
The state title game was even more of a nail-biter.
Howards Grove would fall behind by nine points three different times in the second half, but Aquinas could not deliver the knockout punch.
A 9-0 run by Howards Grove was capped by a three-point play from Olivia Stauss with 49 seconds left that put the Tigers in front by one, a lead they'd never relinquish.
Aquinas had the ball down by three points with ten seconds remaining following a pair of free throws from Olivia Stauss. The Blugolds pushed the ball up the court, and the ball ended up in the hands of junior Kyah Steiner on the right wing as the seconds ticked down. She caught the ball inside the three-point line and attempted to step back to get off a possible game-tying three-pointer.
When Steiner's shot swished through at the buzzer, the Aquinas fans erupted, but the officials ruled her foot was on the line for a two. Video replay, available only at the state tournament, confirmed the call after a brief review, giving the win and trophy to Howards Grove.
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