GENOA – Stillman Valley had the ball down a point in the final 30 seconds, and the Genoa-Kingston girls basketball team had a simple plan – just keep Anna Broski from getting the ball.
The Cogs succeeded, with the Cardinals missing a pair of 3-pointers on their final position and Genoa-Kingston win its regular-season finale, 38-37.
Broski had 14 points and was 4 of 12 from long range in the game. But on the final possession – which included a pair of 3-point attempts by freshman Georgia Ballard and an offensive rebound by freshman Lexi Lichty – Broski couldn't get a look.
"We definitely wanted to make someone else shoot," Genoa-Kingston coach Kyle Henkel said. "We knew going in she was the best shooter and she showed why tonight. We wanted someone else to do it, not here."
The Cardinals (10-18, 4-6 Big Northern Conference) took their first lead of the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Ballard with 51.1 seconds left. The Cogs (15-11, 5-5) got to the line 10 seconds later, but Hannah Schwichtenberg missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Gabby Janes got the rebound for the Cogs, but lost control of the ball. Henkel called for and was awarded a timeout, but the refs reversed the decision, saying Janes wasn't in control of the ball and no timeout should have been call, instead ruling a jump ball. The Cogs had the possession arrow.
Taylor Gilbert was fouled with 34.5 seconds left and made both free throws to put the Cogs up, 38-37.
The Cardinals had the pair of shots down the stretch but couldn't connect on either from long range, and Gilbert said the goal was to keep Broski from getting the ball.
"We definitely knew where she was on the court at all times at the end," Gilbert said. "We were really looking to not let her have a shot."
There were ties or lead changes on the first six possessions of the game, but the Cardinals went on a 9-3 run to take the lead. G-K would regain control on a 3-pointer by Schwichtenberg in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
"I think we played not up to our potential in the first half, but in the second half we were back to our normal level of focus," Gilbert said. "I feel like we got used to the players more."
Gilbert said the team knew coming into the game who to focus on, but knowing who to guard and seeing them in action are two different things. It got easier to guard them after seeing them for a half, she said.
"I feel like in the second half we were more used to them and what players we could sag off of," Gilbert said.
By the numbers: Gilbert scored seven and had seven rebounds. Adryana Tetzloff also scored seven for the Cogs. Ballard had nine points and game-best eight rebounds. She and Broski each had three steals, while Veronica Cieslica had four for Genoa-Kingston
Beyond the stats: The Cardinals had eight offensive rebounds in the first half and four in the second. They also seven first-half 3-pointers and just three in the second half.
They said it: "The second half we didn't give up as many catch-and-shoot 3s and didn't give them as many second chance opportunities," Henkel said. "We've known all year we have to lean on our defense because offensively, we can score points, but if it gets into a shootout it doesn't fare well for us."
Up next: The No. 6 Cogs open the 3A Marengo Sectional against No. 10 Belvidere at 7 p.m. Monday in a play-in game, with the winner facing No. 1 Burlington Central at 6 p.m. No. 9 Stillman Valley is in the 3A Dixon Regional, playing a quarterfinal against No. 8 Rochelle at 6 p.m. Monday, with the winner facing Dixon at 6 p.m. Wednesday.