The Lincolnwood girls basketball program is still in its infancy, but the Lady Lancers took another baby step on Thursday, Jan. 6, in Pawnee.
Lincolnwood came back from a deficit that was seven points midway through the third quarter to score a 34-33 win over the Indians, ensuring that they will have multiple wins in a season for the first time since the program restarted in 2019-2020 after a 34-year absence.
The win was due in large part to the Lancers’ defense, who held Pawnee to single digits in all four quarters and just six field goals in the final three frames.
While their 15-point fourth quarter was the difference maker for sure, Lincolnwood made sure a comeback wasn’t out of the realm of possibility throughout the first three quarters of the MSM Conference clash. Pawnee took a 3-0 lead to start the first quarter, but Avery Pope tied it up on a triple. After a Pawnee bucket, Haelee Damm gave the Lancers their first lead at 6-5 with a three at the 3:50 mark of the opening quarter.
Pawnee would score the next four points to take a 9-6 lead, but Taryn Millburg shrunk the advantage back down to one with her first basket of the game with 35 seconds showing on the clock.
The momentum from Millburg’s basket didn’t carry over, though, as Pawnee scored five straight to take a 14-8 lead with 6:40 to play in the first half. Millburg hit her first three of the game at the midway point of the quarter to cut Pawnee’s lead in half, but the Indians scored the next four on two pair of free throws and led 18-11 with two minutes to play.
The two teams traded possessions down the stretch without scoring, before Millburg made it 18-13 with another basket coming in the final minutes.
The score would stay in the five-to-seven point range in the third quarter as Pawnee answered every time Lincolnwood scored. The Indians had two field goals in the first two minutes, but were held to just two free throws the rest of the way out as their lead remained at five points, 24-19, going into the fourth.
The Lancers got four points from Haelee Damm from the free-throw line in the quarter, but Cora Stevens’ bucket was the only field goal as they searched for a way to get back into the game.
That search led Coach Justin Millburg and the Lancers to junior guard Avery Pope, who hadn’t scored since her three in the first quarter. That soon changed in the fourth as she knocked down her second three just 30 seconds into the final frame to cut the Pawnee lead to two.
The Indians got a free throw seconds later, but Pope hit another three with 6:51 to play to tie the game at 25-25. Pope then picked up a steal and was fouled in the next possession, but couldn’t give Lincolnwood its first lead since the first quarter from the free-throw line.
Pawnee went on a 4-1 run to boost their lead back to three, with field goals from Morgan Langheim and Izzy Fugnitti, but that was followed by a scoreless drought by both teams as the score remained 29-26 with three minutes to play.
When someone did score, it was Pope, who continued to lead her team back with a two at the 2:42 mark. Haelee Damm added a free throw 24 seconds later to tie the game at 29 apiece, but Langheim and Lexi Wilson hit free throws to put Pawnee back in front.
With time winding down, the Lancers turned defense into offense when Pope stole the ball and drove in for a layup to make it 31-31 with 1:22 to play. Lilly Terneus then picked off the inbounds pass and dropped in her first basket as the Lancers took the lead for the first time since the 3:50 mark of the first quarter.
The two teams traded free throws over the next 70 seconds, with Wilson hitting one for the Indians to make it 33-32, only to have Pope hit one for the Lancers to boost the lead back to two points with 10.5 seconds to play.
The Indians got the ball over halfcourt after Pope missed the second free throw and called a timeout to set up a final play with 6.6 seconds to go. They would get the ball to Wilson, who drove the lane and was tripped up for a foul on the Lancers.
With nine points in the books already, Pawnee’s senior guard had a chance to tie the game, but missed the first of her charity tosses. Wilson would make the second one, but Lincolnwood avoided any further attempts by the Indians as Millburg got the ball in to Pope and evaded the defense for the final three seconds to secure the win.
Pope finished with 14 points as the Lancers picked up their second win of the season, marking the first time in the new era that they had won multiple games in a season.
Haelee Damm added in eight points, while Taryn Millburg finished with seven. Cora Stevens (3) and Lilly Terneus (2) also scored for Lincolnwood, who is 2-1 in the MSM Conference after also beating Mt. Olive earlier in the season.
Pawnee got 12 points from Sarah Olson and 10 from Lexi Wilson, but went 15-for-29 from the free-throw line, with eight of those misses coming in the fourth quarter.
The win would be a buzzer-beater of a different sort for the Lancers, however, as COVID forced the cancellation of the team’s game on Auburn on Saturday. Lincolnwood will miss Monday’s scheduled game against Sangamon Valley, which has been moved to Jan. 29.
Tentatively, the Lancers’ next game will be Thursday, Jan. 13, against another MSM foe, the Lutheran Crusaders, in Springfield.
January 6 at Pawnee
Lincolnwood 8 5 6 15 34
Pawnee 9 9 6 9 33
Lincolnwood (34) - Avery Pope 14, Haelee Damm 8, Taryn Millburg 7, Cora Stevens 3, Lilly Terneus 2. Totals: 11 7-19 34.
Pawnee (33) - Sarah Olson 12, Lexi Wilson 10, Morgan Langheim 5, Izzy Fugnitti 4, Kern 1, Kaycie Berry 1. Totals: 9 15-29 33.
Three-point field goals: Lincolnwood 5 (Pope 3, Millburg 1, Damm 1); Pawnee 0.
Records: Lincolnwood (2-14); Pawnee (3-11).
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