Fort Calhoun girls make major comeback at AHS

Pioneers win 41-40 on Anderson's FT with 6.5 left

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At the foul line with 6.5 seconds left wasn't exactly where Fort Calhoun senior Abbie Anderson wanted to be.
“I, honestly, hate pressure,” the 5-foot-5 guard said Friday at Arlington High School. “So that was really scary for me.”
The Pioneers had trailed their Nebraska Capitol Conference consolation game by nine points with less than 3 minutes to go, but Anderson stepped to the charity stripe with the game on her shoulders. Coach Marty Plum's team had battled back to within one point, 40-39, and the senior had an opportunity to not only tie the game, but put her squad ahead for the first time all night.
“I just thought in my head that, 'I'm going to make this,'” Anderson said.
Sure enough, the FCHS hero did and a long 6.5 seconds later the Pioneers went back to their locker room 41-40 winners.
“We just knew that we deserved it,” Anderson said when asked what led to the rally. “We wanted to win and fight.”
Outside of the opposite locker room, Eagles coach Luke Brenn tried to explain how his team fell to 6-10 after leading the 32-minute game for at least 31.
“We've just got to get better and cut down on mistakes,” he said. “Bottom line is we just made too many mistakes.”
Not long after a timeout with 3:03 remaining, AHS junior Kailynn Gubbels scored two of her game-high 14 points to put her team out front 40-31. Fort Calhoun's Bria Bench cut that advantage to 40-33 with two free throws before another break at 1:12.
From there, the Pioneers blanked Arlington 8-0, starting with an Anderson bucket. With just 24.4 seconds left, Bench, a freshman, sunk a long-range shot to pull the Pioneers within two.
After another timeout, the Eagles inbounded the ball against an FCHS press and were coerced into a turnover. The Pioneers' Rianna Wells wound up with the ball at half court.
“At that moment, like when I caught it and I was looking around, I think I knew that — and everybody knew that — we could win,” the senior said. “It was a lot of joy, a lot of happiness after that.”
Calhoun's Kenzie Hansen earned a trip the foul line with 9.7 seconds remaining, sinking 1-of-2 to pull the Pioneers within 40-39. FCHS then sent an AHS player to the line with an intentional foul before Anderson came down with the defensive rebound in traffic, earning her own way back to the opposite foul line with the sound of the referee's whistle.
“After we gained a few points, got a few turnovers, coach really just wanted us to put ourselves out there and do it for the team,” Wells said. “And do it for ourselves.”
Despite her nerves, Anderson delivered the game-winner with 6.5 seconds left. When the Eagles' Keelianne Green was unable to get a shot off before the buzzer sounded, Fort Calhoun picked up its fifth win of the season.
“That is the most us seniors have ever had,” Wells said. Her class has gone 4-19, 2-21 and 4-19 since the 2016-17 Pioneers reached the district final round with 16 victories. “(Five is) a new record for us.”
Tonight, FCHS and the Eagles go head-to-head again. Plum's squad will seek win No. 6, while AHS will contend for a bit of revenge and victory No. 7.

Pioneers drop 17-point game
Despite 10 points by Anderson, Fort Calhoun lost its NCC tourney opener at second-seeded Yutan on Wednesday, 48-31.
The Pioneers hung with the Chieftains 9-9 through one quarter, but fell behind by nine during the second and by 18 through three. Anderson led the way in scoring, while Tess Skelton added nine points and Bench had six. Skelton (three), Anderson (one), Bench (one) and Maddy Tinkham (one) knocked down 3-point shots for coach Plum.
Yutan, meanwhile, improved to 8-5 with the win and advanced the NCC semifinals against Louisville — Arlington's first round opponent.

Eagles fall at No. 3 seed
Arlington kept up with third-seeded Louisville through one half Wednesday, but a 20-3 third period buried the Eagles on the Lions' home floor. LHS moved onto the NCC semifinals with the 63-32 win, while AHS fell to the consolation round.
Gubbels led the road team with 10 points on 2-for-6 shooting and six made free throws, while Kate Miller added nine with three 2-point buckets. Green added seven points as well.
Louisville, meanwhile, led 27-22 after 16 minutes and 47-25 after 24 with Avery Heilig leading the way. She scored a game-high 13 points, while Mckenzie Norris had 11 and Ella Johnson notched 10.

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