MITCHELL — Three days after losing to Mitchell in the championship game of the Western Trails Conference Tournament, the Kimball girls basketball team enacted a bit of revenge against the Tigers by prevailing in a 63-61 overtime thriller on Tuesday night at Mitchell High School.
Kimball senior Amber Kilgore, who had three big points in the overtime period, said it was a tight, hard-nosed game and her team responded strongly after Saturday's disappointing loss.
“The loss put us more on edge. We wanted to get them back. Overall, it just was our night,” Kilgore said. “This win is huge because we were disappointed that we lost, but at the same time we didn't give all our effort. We played better as a team tonight and we put forth more effort.”
Kimball coach Ken Smith said the win was a credit to the heart his squad played with throughout the contest, as the Longhorns battled back from deficits all game long.
“The players just showed a lot of heart,” Smith said. “The girls showed they wanted to continue a great season that they started. We had a lot of adversity in the first half where we didn't play real well. To come back and fight as hard as we did in the second half and overtime showed a lot of character on the girls' part.”
Kilgore said the Longhorns really picked up their play after a slow start.
“At the beginning of the game it was kind of slow, but we picked it up,” she said. “Everybody picked it up in the second half and put forth all their effort.”
One of the big keys to Kimball's win was rebounding. The Longhorns converted lots of offensive rebounds for points, while also hauling in a number of clutch defensive boards, especially in overtime.
“Rebounding hasn't been our strongest point throughout the season,” Kilgore said. “We have been working on it. Every one up until the last seconds mattered. We just put forth all we could again.”
Mitchell zipped out to an 8-3 lead and led 13-8 after one quarter on a Havannah Newens 3-pointer.
Kimball scored six straight on buckets by Danika Daum, Shelby Vogel, and Jessica Hanks to grab its first lead of the game at 18-17 in the second quarter. But Mitchell managed to go back in front 24-21 at halftime.
The Tigers came back to go ahead 24-18 before Taylor Wismer hit a 3-pointer to end the second half with the Tigers up 24-21.
Taylor Wismer connected on two straight treys to open the second half for Kimball. After a Kilgore bucket, the Longhorns led 29-24.
Chalsey Grentz and Newens ignited an 8-0 run by Mitchell to put the Tigers back in front before Kimball answered with an 11-4 spurt to take a 40-36 advantage after three quarters of play. Wismer hit another 3-pointer to power the run.
With Kimball up 55-51 with 14.4 seconds to play after two Darbi Klinkhammer free throws, Newens then drove the lane for a score to bring Mitchell within 55-53 with 2.5 seconds left. Newens then stole the inbounds pass and hit a 10-foot jumper to send the game into overtime.
Mitchell coach Brock Ehler said Newens' game-tying play was incredible.
“Havannah was feeling kind of down in the locker room after the game and I gave her something that made her laugh. I said that Reggie Miller is the only person I saw do that,” Ehler said. “I told her to deny, deny, and deny, and try to get a quick turnover and score it. She got it, put it up, and it went in. It was absolutely amazing. It was a pretty incredible thing to watch.”
The overtime period proved tight as both teams were tied at 57 and 59. Kilgore hit a bucket to put Kimball up 61-59. She then converted one of two free throws to pus the lead to 62-59 at the three-minute mark.
With 14.9 seconds to play, Klinkhammer nailed one of two free throws. Mitchell's Felina Blanco then hit a shot with 8.89 seconds left. Mitchell managed to get a turnover, but couldn't get a decent look at the basket as time ran out.
Ehler said the game was like a chess match.
“They did some nice things and we had to adjust. We did some things and they had to adjust. It was a little bit of a chess match — a fast chess match and that is why it was fun,” he said. “You could tell there were a lot of smart individuals on the floor on both sides. They made a lot of good things happen.”
Wismer led Kimball in scoring with 15 points. Shelby Vogel added 10. Klinkhammer, Kilgore, and Daum each finished with nine points.
Lower led Mitchell offensively with 21 points followed by Newens with 16 and Taylor Peters with 10. Blanco chipped in eight points.
After wrapping up the regular season with a pair of games this weekend, the Longhorns and Tigers will face off for a fourth time next week in the semifinals of the Class C-1, Sub-district 12 Tournament in Alliance.
Kimball (13-3).............8 13 19 15 8 – 63
Mitchell (12-8)...............13 11 12 19 6 – 61
Darbi Klinkhammer 9, Taylor Wismer 15, Jessica Hanks 7, Kelly Green 2, Shelby Vogel 10, Amber Kilgore 9, Danika Daum 9, Tabitha Unzicker 2.
Chalsey Grentz 4, Kady Lower 21, Havannah Newens 16, McKenna Zulkoski 3, Taylor Peters 10, Mikaela Karpen 1, Felina Blanco 8.