Corsica-Stickney girls basketball coach Lorisa Broughton said her teams had a variety of names for Friday's tilt with De Smet.
The DWU Culver's Classic nightcap could have been dubbed a top-three Class B tilt or a state semifinal rematch, but it turned into a heavyweight slugfest that was once again decided in the final minute. Unlike last spring's state semifinal game, though, the Jaguars did not squander a lead in the final moments and there were no game-winning buzzer-beating shots.
Top-ranked Corsica-Stickney clung to a 46-43 lead, but a few costly miscues down the stretch cost No. 3 De Smet in a 49-45 game at the Corn Palace.
"We needed to pick up our intensity," Lorisa Broughton said. "I thought we were a little soft. They play very physical and we weren't answering their physicality. I told the girls we need to toughen up a little more and start attacking."
Like most fans in the building, Avery Broughton had been waiting for this game for 11 months and Lorisa Broughton was quick to point out her propensity to hold a grudge. It was evident from the opening tip as the Bulldogs did not score a point until there were 2 minutes, 28 seconds left on the clock in the first quarter.
Broughton had the first six points of the game and she remained on the attack or the rest of the night, scoring 16 of her game-high 28 points in the first half -- the lone Jaguar in double figures -- while also finishing with 10 rebounds and three blocks.
"It was a little bit of a revenge game," Broughton said. "Even though it was a regular season game, it still feels good to win and play well."
Even despite Broughton's aggressiveness and a slow start offensively, De Smet (14-4) trailed by seven points when it finally made its first basket. The Bulldogs did not relent on defense all night and matched Broughton's aggressiveness with a physical style that staggered Corsica-Stickney in the second and third quarters.
Trailing 15-6 at the end of the first quarter, De Smet clawed to within three at halftime and Autumn Wilkinson drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to tie the game, 32-32, with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter. Reyna Beck then recovered one the Bulldogs' 14 offensive rebounds and dropped it through the hoop as the buzzer sounded for their first lead of the game.
The final rebound totals were 38-36 in favor of De Smet, but the Bulldogs also limited Corsica-Stickney (19-0) to three offensive rebounds in the second half after giving up nine in the first 16 minutes.
"(Defense) keeps us in games when the ball isn't going in the hole," De Smet head coach Doug Osthus said. "In the second half we started attacking the basket and that's what we base our game plan around most nights. ... The third and fourth shot opportunities in the first half got us playing defense too long and giving them opportunities."
After scoring eight and nine points in the second and third quarters, respectively, Corsica-Stickney finally responded to De Smet's physicality and rattled off an 8-0 run to regain the lead thanks to 3-pointers from Morgan DeLange and Broughton on a night the Jaguars went 3 of 13 from 3-point range.
With a three-point lead in the final minute, De Smet took a quick shot and Alexis Tilton went 1-for-2 from the free-throw line to push the lead to four, but the Bulldogs had back-to-back traveling calls with 36.1 seconds left that sealed the game.
"We were doing a little too much standing around (on offense)," Lorisa Broughton said. "When we're moving, we're a lot harder to defend. I think that helped to get a little rhythm going."
Kennadi Buchholz finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, wile Wilkinson had 14 points and Beck added 10.