It took some work, but Welch’s girls picked up their 14th title at the Northeastern A&M High School Basketball Tournament.
The Lady Wildcats overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to beat Walnut Grove, Ark., 39-36 in the Girls’ Red championship Saturday at the Civic Center.
“Defensively, we stepped it up,” Welch coach Shawn Goodwin said. “We mixed it up a little bit and pressured them. The girls showed some character today. They came out and played with some heart. They dug down deep.”
The title was the second for Welch since 2003 and leaves the Lady Wildcats three short of all-time title champ Bluejacket.
Welch’s other titles were in 1995, 1994, 1986, 1985, 1978, 1973, 1968, 1967, 1963, 1961, 1960 and 1959.
Walnut Grove opened up a 23-10 advantage with 2:12 left in the first half thanks to a 3-point goal by Sammy Horton, a follow shot by Amanda Mosier and a jumper by Hannah Harman.
However, the Lady Cats finished the half with a flurry, getting free throws from Sierra Hankins and Ashley Marlow to narrow the gap to 23-12.
A pair of free throws by Kirsten Leppla to start the third quarter sent Welch on a 15-2 run that gave the Lady Wildcats a 27-25 advantage.
Kalleigh Kelly downed two free throws for the Lady Tigers, but Erin Snedden came off the bench and buried a 3-point goal from the far right corner, giving WHS a 30-27 edge heading into the final stanza.
“Erin Snedden came off the bench and hit a humongous ‘3’ for us that gave us a boost,” Goodwin said. “That was what we expect from our bench players. Everybody played well.”
Walnut Grove pulled to within two twice down the stretch, but each time Welch responded.
Two free throws by Jessica Misner left Welch with a 34-32 edge with 59 seconds left, but Marlow scored on a runner along the baseline.
A jumper from inside by Harman cut the gap to two again with 35 seconds remaining, but Marlow canned another two charities.
Kalleigh Chrz iced the win with a free throw with 10 seconds left.
Lyndsy Hawk set the final score with a layup as time expired.”
“That is a good team,” Goodwin said. “That really will prepare us for the playoffs. These three games are what we need to expect the next couple of weeks. We still need to step it up another level.”
Marlow had 10 points and Leppla added nine for the Lady Wildcats.
Harmon headed up the Lady Tiger scoring with 10 points.
Welch travels to Wyandotte Tuesday night for a Lucky 7 Conference game.