Garrett's first attempt to inbound the ball against Woodlan came up empty, but the Railroaders' second try went just according to plan in the Class 3A Concordia Sectional semifinals Friday night.
Garrett sophomore Morgan Ostrowkski went up for the ball and immediately put it back into the basket to give the Railroaders a 46-44 lead with about six seconds to play.
Garrett's Nataley Armstrong blocked Addison Bayman's attempt to inbound the ball. On the Warriors' next attempt to get the ball in play, Bayman got the ball on Garrett's 3-point line and heaved it toward the basket, but it clanked off the backboard to send the Railroaders to the finals, where they will play Concordia in their first sectional title game since 2014.
“It was crazy – I knew going into it that we were going to run a play for me to get the last-second shot, and I couldn't have done it without any of my teammates,” the 6-foot-1 Ostrowski said.
Ostrowski scored 14 points for the Railroaders (15-8), eight of them in the first quarter as Garrett took a 13-3 lead.
“We were just trying to run a couple things that we thought might work, and they did a nice job of taking things away,” Garrett coach Bob Lapadot said. “Someone with as much heart and determination as Morgan Ostrowski – when there's a chance to go win it, man, she went and won it. I couldn't be more proud of her. We preached to her all year long that you can fight inside and you can do all that stuff. It's a lesson in belief, and that's what I'm most proud of.”
The Warriors (18-7) struggled on offense in the first quarter, missing all seven of their shots. But Woodlan's full-court press began to trip up Garrett in the second quarter. After the Warriors blocked a Bailey Kelham shot, Abbey Gentz got the ball and passed it to an open Gabby Joyce for a layup that gave the Warriors a 16-15 lead.
Weaver and Kelham each hit one more shot before halftime to give the Railroaders a tenuous 19-16 lead.
The lead flipped four times in the third quarter before Garrett sophomore Faith Owen got hot, hitting two 3-pointers to give the Railroaders a 32-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter, and then opened the final quarter with another 3. The Garrett lead grew to seven points before Bayman sunk a 3-pointer, and sophomore Dakotah Krohn got a steal under the basket and hit a layup to cut Garrett's lead to 41-39. A few minutes later, she hit the layup that tied the game at 44.
Owen led the Railroaders with 17 points, and Kelham scored 12.
Bayman finished her Woodlan career with 13 points. Freshman Avah Smith led the Warriors with 16, 10 of which came in the third quarter.
“With this young team, starting four sophomores and a freshman, for the advancement of our program this is so important, to play for championships and to do things down the stretch and execute,” Lapadot said.
“They keep me young – they're so young and goofy and just have fun, and nothing bothers them. Being an old guy who's done this for so long, it's kind of refreshing not to get nervous. I thought on the way here, I don't want to wait another seven months until I get to coach them again.”