Central's girls basketball team used a late regulation comeback and a dominating overtime performance Tuesday to upset second-seeded Poplar Bluff 39-33 in overtime in a Class 5, District 1 semifinal game at Central High School.
Central will meet rival Jackson in the district final Thursday. Jackson, the top seed, defeated No. 4 Farmington 52-37 in the other semifinal.
Central (15-10) led the Mules 15-14 at the end of the first half and went into the fourth quarter up 21-20. Poplar Bluff (20-5) started strong in the fourth quarter by building a seven-point lead with three minutes remaining.
Tigers coach Sheila Midgett said her team did not panic despite the deficit.
"That was the most confidence they've played with in my two years here," she said.
The key to Central's late run was a stifling pressure defense that held the Mules over the final three minutes of regulation and into overtime.
"We had to go back to pressure man-to-man defense," Midgett said.
The change in defense resulted in Poplar Bluff being held to one overtime field goal as the Tigers outscored the Mules 8-2 in overtime.
Alex Wieser led the Tigers with 24 points, including three 3-pointers. Frances Kalich was Poplar Bluff's lone double figure scorer with 10 points.
Midgett said the Tigers are anxious to get another crack at their rival.
"Both groups will be up for it," she said.
Jackson 52, Farmington 37
The Indians withstood a sluggish offensive start to push past the fourth-seeded Knightettes.
Jackson's (18-8) lead was less than 10 points throughout the first half, with Farmington (16-9) pushing to within six midway through the third quarter.
Jackson began to pull away as the third quarter wound down, pushing its lead to as many as 13 late in the quarter. In the fourth quarter Jackson pulled ahead by 17 late in the fourth before settling for the 15-point win.
Jenna Leet led the Indians with 17 points. Whitney Werner added 13 points, 10 of which came in the first half, and Jessie Koeper had 10.
The Indians did much of their scoring damage from the free throw line, where they went 19-of-29. Farmington only attempted 11 free throws.