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Eagles rally in fourth quarter to end Delta's season in quarterfinals
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- The ghosts of last season haunted the Delta Bobcats during the fourth quarter Saturday.
The Bobcats grabbed a five-point lead before going into an offensive shell. Naylor jumped on Delta's timidness to pull out a 42-37 victory in their Class 1 state quarterfinal Saturday at Three Rivers Community College.
"We just got really nervous," Delta freshman Machela VanGennip said. "We let our nerves get to us, I guess. We were trying hard but it didn't work out."
The Bobcats enjoyed a nine-point lead entering the fourth quarter in last year's state quarterfinal game. But Bakersfield outscored them 20-7 over the final eight minutes to end Delta's season on the same court last year.
Delta's players admitted to thinking about that loss after Samantha Bartels hit a 3-pointer to give the Bobcats a 35-30 lead with 5 minutes, 54 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
"That eight minutes of last year when we blew that lead has been with us ever since that game," Delta senior Taylor Smith said. "We didn't want to feel that way again."
Delta's offense became content to work the ball around the perimeter after it grabbed the five-point lead. The Bobcats ran time off the clock but stopped creating chances to score.
"That's exactly what was going through my head was last year," Delta senior Kendra Burnett said. "I didn't want it to happen again."
Delta coach Mark Verticchio said he didn't call for his team to stall.
"The girls just got too timid," he said. "I think they just got a little too cautious."
Naylor reeled off 12 consecutive points after Bartels' 3 to take control.
"Usually teams that are like that and know they have to stall, they start getting impatient and scared with themselves," Naylor senior Moriah Goodrum said. "After you're up there for a little bit, we just wait on a pass. They're going to mess up sooner or later and just wait for the right pass and go."
Goodrum scored nine of her team's final 12 points. She gave her team a 36-35 lead on a basket with 1:18 left, and the Bobcats responded with a 3-point attempt by VanGennip that went halfway down before bouncing out. The Eagles (22-8) grabbed the rebound and Goodrum was fouled. She hit both free throws to give her team a 38-35 lead.
The Bobcats (19-9) turned over the ball on the ensuing possession, with Goodrum snatching the ball. She quickly was fouled before VanGennip was whistled for a technical foul on the play.
"I was going for the ball," VanGennip said. "My mom recorded it and from [the referee[']s] angle, it did look like I shoved her, but I was going for the ball."
Goodrum connected on 3 of her 4 free throws to push the Eagles' lead to 41-35. They also got the ball after the free throws.
"At that point I knew it was going to be fine," Goodrum said. "It was not as hard as some free throws have been."
Neither team shot the ball well in the opening half. The Eagles shot 26 percent (6 of 23) while the Bobcats hit 18 percent (4 of 22) of their shots from the field. Naylor led 18-15 at the break.
VanGennip heated up in the third quarter, scoring nine points to help her team pull even entering the final quarter.
"We did the same things we did in the first half, but we just moved a lot more," VanGennip said.
Delta scored the first five points of the fourth quarter before Naylor's game-clinching run.
"I think we just got too content with having the lead," Smith said. "We just wanted to run the clock out and that led to turnovers."
NAYLOR (42) -- Katelyn Hughey 8, Moriah Goodrum 22, Kendal Rodgers 7, Ericka Engelman 5. FG 14, FT 14-25, F 17. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none)
DELTA (37) -- Taylor Smith 11, Tori Burton 2, Machela VanGennip 11, Kendra Burnett 4, Samantha Bartels 9. FG 13, FT 7-10, F 16. (3-pointers: Bartels 3, Smith 1. Fouled out: none)