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Patriots come back from 17-point deficit to edge Ellsworth, 48-47

ELLSWORTH -- Hills-Beaver Creek's Jayme Plimpton couldn't have picked a better time to find her rhythm.

The freshman guard scored eight of her team-high 10 points in the final three minutes to lead H-BC to a 48-47 victory over Ellsworth (11-14) in the opening round of the girls' 3A South Sub-section basketball tournament.

As the Patriots (6-18) trailed by as many as 17 points in the second half, Plimpton's trey with three minutes remaining tied the game at 41-all and set up a thrilling conclusion.

"I just kind of threw it up there," Plimpton, who scored just two points in the game's previous 33 minutes, said of the shot. "I hadn't really shot before that."

Plimpton then teamed up with Natalie Stueven to convert on seven-of-eight free throws to seal the one-point victory.

"It was a little nerve racking standing out there; but they went in," Plimpton, who made five-of-six foul shots in the final two minutes, said. "It's a really big win. We haven't beat them in like three years. We're really excited to have another practice and keep the season going."

After holding the Patriots to just 14 first-half points, it was Ellsworth that struggled to score in the second half.

"It's huge because we had the game, and we gave it back to them, plain and simple," Ellsworth head coach Justin Hendricks said. "We panicked a little bit and they made some shots. They eventually came all the way back and took the game from us."

After scoring six points in the first three minutes of the second half, Ellsworth scored just one more point during the next nine minutes, and made just one more field goal in the game.

"We didn't play any defense in the first half; we just weren't doing what we know we should do," Hills-Beaver Creek head coach Jason Blosmo said. "The girls were challenged at halftime to see what they could do."

Defensively, H-BC allowed the Panthers just 14 shots in the second half, and needed every one of the 34 points the Patriots scored in the second half.

"I was pretty emotional in the locker room, but I couldn't be prouder of the girls," Blosmo said. "For them to step up and play as well as they did, we had good senior leadership and we had some freshman that hit some big time free throws at the end. In the face of adversity, they stepped up and met the challenge, and we live to play Saturday."

With each of the previous games decided by just two points each -- both victories by Ellsworth -- neither coach was surprised by the close outcome.

"It was a good game to watch, and good for the fans. It's stressful for the coaches, but that's all right," Blosmo said. "We've played each other for a lot of years and every game is a nip-and-tuck, down to the wire game. You get your money's worth, so it's always a good rivalry."

Both teams came out of the gate slow. Brooke Kramer (19 points, eight rebounds) scored the first points for the Panthers, but nearly 10 minutes into the game, Ellsworth had a 7-6 lead.

However, after a shot from Darian Herman and a layup from Andrea DeBoer (11 points), the Panthers went on a 10-0 run to take a 17-6 lead.

A shot from Kramer and a drive from Rayna Sandoval increased the lead to 21-8, as the Panthers had a 29-14 lead at the break.

"We weren't shooting the ball real well, and then you have to have the defense to offset that, and we weren't getting that either," Blosmo said of the first half.

With Ellsworth increasing the lead to 35-18, H-BC made its move.

Ashley Bucher (six points, 10 rebounds) started the comeback by converting on a drive in the lane and Jocelyn Bucher followed with a steal and a layup to begin an 18-1 run to tie the game at 36-all.

"We got up 15 or so at half, and I told them to just keep playing like it was 0-0, and if we win this half, we won't have any trouble," Hendricks said. "Unfortunately, that didn't happen for us. We just didn't make enough shots."

However, the tied score would not last long as a pair of free throws from Kramer and Brooke Kix (seven points) gave Ellsworth the lead.

After a shot from Stueven brought H-BC back within two, Ellsworth's Leah Timmer connected on a free throw to push the lead back to three.

It was then that Plimpton hit a trey to tie the game at 41- all.

Kramer's free throw less than a minute later gave Ellsworth its final lead of the game, as Plimpton and Stueven each hit a pair of foul shots to give the Patriots the lead for good.

Trailing by three in the final 10 seconds, the Panthers had a chance to tie with a trey, but instead hit a layup to give H-BC its first win against Ellsworth in three tries this season.

"It's a big win," Blosmo said. "The third time's a charm is what we kind of talked about over the last couple of days."

The loss ends Ellsworth's season, but the Panthers will only lose Kramer to graduation.

"It's disappointing, especially for Kramer who has been a good player for us the past two years," Hendricks said. "Hopefully the younger players can work hard and not let that thing happen again."

The Patriots advance to face Fulda Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in Worthington.

"We know Fulda, and they know us," Blosmo said. "They are a good basketball team and they are well coached. We want to play in the Worthington arena. It's a great place and it has that Hoosiers atmosphere, so no matter who we play, we'll take on the challenge."

H-BC 14 34 -- 48

Ellsworth 29 18 -- 47

H-BC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) McGuire 0-4-0-8, J. Bucher 0-4-0-8, Stueven 0-2-2-6, A. Bucher 0-2-2-6, Tilstra 0-0-2-2, Helgeson 2-1-0-8, Plimpton 1-0-7-10. Totals 3-13-13-48.

Ellsworth (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Kramer 0-5-9-19, DeBoer 0-4-3-11, Herman 0-1-0-2, Kix 1-1-2-7, Sandoval 0-1-0-2, Dreesen 0-1-1-3, Timmer 0-1-1-3. Totals 1-14-16-47.

Sub-section 2A ML/B-O 52, Madelia 50

MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Brittany Wenner (three assists) posted a 15 point, 11 rebound double-double to pace the Wolverines past the visiting Madelia Blackhawks, 52-50, Thursday night.

With the victory, the Wolverines (3-22) advance to face No. 1 seeded Granada-Huntley-East Chain Tuesday night in Granada.

Kelly Hempeck added 11 points and posted eight rebounds and four assists for ML/B-O. Megan Svalland scored nine points and pulled down 16 rebounds, while Courtney Anderson had five steals and dished out three assists.

Madelia finishes its season with a 2-23 record.

Madelia 8 42 -- 50

ML/B-O 20 32 -- 52