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Loyal girls take secondplace game over Fall Creek

The Cloverbelt Conference girls basketball second-place crossover game on Feb. 22 at Osseo-Fairchild was anything but a display of how to shoot the ball. It was exciting, though, as Loyal hit six crucial free throws in the final minute to pull out a 44-39 win over Fall Creek. The teams combined to make just four of 25 shots from 3-point range and neither of them neared the 30 percent mark for overall shooting in the game. Loyal did excel at the line when it counted, with seniors Remi Geiger (4-4) and Heather Bravener (2-2) responding to the pressure by making foul shots when they were most needed. Loyal ended up with a 16-23 night at the line, which was important as Fall Creek went 9-16.

The first half was a low-scoring matter. The Greyhounds scored the last five points to manage a 20-15 lead at the break.

The Greyhounds pulled out to an 8-point lead early in the second half on a Geiger 3-pointer. Fall Creek was able to peck away at the lead over the next several minutes, but would never quite be able to pull even the rest of the way. It got to within a single point several times and still trailed only 34-33 with 4:34 left to play. Katlyn Lindner scored back-to-back buckets for Loyal to give it a 38-34 lead with 3:17 left. After a Gianna Vollrath score pulled the Crickets to within a basket at the 2:04 mark, Loyal committed a turnover but Fall Creek missed its chance to tie. That brought the clock down to a minute and Fall Creek opted to foul. That backfired when Bravener hit two free throws for a 40-36 lead. Fall Creek got a score at the 40-second mark to make it a 40-38 game, but Geiger connected on two free throws with 32 seconds to go to get the lead back to four. Fall Creek missed a 3-point attempt on its next trip, then had to foul Geiger again with 15 ticks left. She made both shots again to ice the game.

Geiger led Loyal with 18 points. Savannah Schley added eight and Lindner and Bravener each scored seven. Schley had 11 rebounds and Kayla Bremmer grabbed 10.

The Eastern half of the conference swept the finals, as Neillsville downed Osseo-Fairchild 47-44 in overtime in the first-place game.