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Womens basketball: Lady Jays lose grip, fall by three

WORTHINGTON — With two sets of hands in her face, Anoka-Ramsey’s Olivia Antilla swished a three-point shot with 12.2 seconds remaining in the game, giving her team a 68-67 lead over the Minnesota West Lady Jays basketball team Sunday afternoon.

With 6.6 seconds left, Antilla — a wide-bodied 5-11 sophomore from Osseo — calmly drained two free throws to up the margin to three points. West was unable to get off a good shot in the little time that followed, and the Golden Rams edged the Lady Jays 70-67 at the Center for Health and Wellness.

It was a nail-biter that more than lived up to its billing.

Anoka-Ramsey entered the game ranked No. 3 in the nation, with a 12-3 overall record and 2-0 mark in the Southern Division. The Lady Jays were 13-3 and 3-0. The two teams have a history of exciting basketball between each other, and Sunday’s game was just more of the same.

“They’re a good team. There’s a reason they’re ranked No. 3 in the nation,” said Minnesota West’s Kristen Andersen moments after the final buzzer. “A team like them, you can’t ever let up. We did a good job, though. We’ll get ’em again.”

The squads are scheduled to meet again Feb. 12 in Coon Rapids.

On Sunday, though, Minnesota West appeared to have the game under control when Andersen was fouled inside the lane attempting a shot with 27.6 seconds to go. She made the first of her two free throws to give West a 67-65 advantage. Antilla, who leads her team with a 23.3 points per game average, took over at that point. Grabbing a pass at the other end and dribbling near the three-point line to get herself in position for a shot, she launched it beyond the outstretched hands of two Lady Jay defenders and settled it into the bottom of the net for a one-point A-R lead. After a missed West opportunity, she was fouled again after securing an in-bounds pass, and both her charity tosses found their mark without touching a rim.

Antilla led all scorers with 22 points. Teammate Maria Loughlin had 21.

Andersen with 20, Tiffany Gehl with 17 and Lydia Kemper with 16 paced a Lady Jay squad bent on an upset. They came so close.

“The basketball gods, sometimes they don’t always work for you so good. We put ourselves in a good position, but we were unable to stop the shot,” said West head coach Mike Fury. “We were up by two there. We needed to stop the shot and it didn’t happen.”

In the first half, it looked as though Anoka-Ramsey might run away and hide. With about eight minutes left in the half, the Golden Rams held a 23-13 lead. It was all Minnesota West could do to keep the game close against the physical play of the Rams, who took a 34-29 lead into intermission.

In the second half, however, the Jays stepped up their play. At 11:57 a hustling Gehl rebounded her own miss and finished with a three-point play for a 45-42 lead. At 6:29 Kemper, racing across court to rebound a teammate’s missed three-point shot, swished her own — then netted another three-pointer the next time down the floor, and West led 59-56. At 4:58 a red-hot Kemper hit her third three-pointer, and it was 62-58 in West’s favor.

Andersen said the Lady Jays had become too timid in their zone in the first half, and the coaches told them to “go after ’em” in the second half.

“I think we were a little bit more aggressive, penetrated better and hit some shots,” said Fury.

Antilla led all players with 12 rebounds as the Rams out-rebounded West 47-43. Andersen had 10 boards for the Lady Jays. Kramer had four assists and Hermeling had three steals.

Anoka-Ramsey 34 70

Lady Jays 29 67

ANOKA-RAMSEY (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) — Loughlin 1-7-4-21, Racek 0-1-0-2, Schaub 3-0-2-11, Antilla 1-5-9-22, Finklea 0-1-2-4, Carter 0-3-0-6, Parker 0-2-0-4. Totals 5-19-17-70.

LADY JAYS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) — Hermeling 1-0-1-4, Kramer 1-0-1-4, Kemper 3-2-3-16, Gehl 0-4-9-17, Drooger 2-0-0-6, Andersen 1-5-7-20, Tish 0-0-0-0. Kazemba 0-0-0-0. Totals 8-11-21-67.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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