(Casper, WY) – It wasn’t easy, but second/third place opening round state tournament games aren’t supposed to be. The Lander Lady Tigers held off the 21-2 Newcastle Doggies 52-45 to advance to the Class 3-A semi-finals tomorrow afternoon at Casper College against either Mountain View or Douglas. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
The Lady Tigers opened the game 8-0 behind a 3-pointer by Whitney Hansen and a drive by Taline Tendore with good free throw shooting added. That free throw performance continued throughout the contest and was the difference in the final minutes of the game.
Lander held Newcastle scoreless for almost six minutes, but the Doggies roared back at the end of the opening period and the first minutes of the second on a 13-3 run to take their first lead of the game 13-11.
A trey by Megan Winfield regained the lead for Lander, but Newcastle chipped away behind eight opening half points by 5-10 junior Jaylen Ostenson and six by 5-6 junior guard Shelby Tidyman.
Lander led 19-18 at the half.
Tendore set the tone early in the third period with a 3-pointer, followed by another by Hansen and the Lady Tigers jumped to a 25-18 lead. Tidyman answered with a trey for Newcastle keeping the game close before a drive by Tendore lifted Lander back to a 27-21 advantage with 5:13 remaining in the period.
A 3-pointer by Demi Stauffenberg and a perfectly executed fast break with Kiara Friday hitting Winfield in stride for a layup gave Lander a brief seven point lead late in the period.
Newcastle rolled on a 6-0 run behind treys from Tidyman and Hunter McFarland, with McFarland’s narrowly beating the buzzer to trail by just one entering the final period.
Hansen scored on a driver with 5:43 left in the game, but Tidyman tied the game at 34 on a jump shot and free throw.
Another Hansen drive was answered on a McFarland jump shot at 4:40 to knot the game a final time at 36.
Lander senior Ryan Bell went to work in the final minutes, starting with a 3-point shot that gave the Lady Tigers the lead for good at 39-36, she added a free throw with 2:35 left in the game for 40-38 Lander lead.
Playing deliberately on offense, and with just three team fouls accrued in the second half, the Lady Tigers took a four point lead with 1:08 remaining on a Tendore layup.
Newcastle wouldn’t go away, closing to two points, then three, and finally just a single point.
Bell coolly hit five of six free throws in the final minute of the game, with Tendore adding two more.
Lander head coach Serol Stauffenberg had his team foul Newcastle three times to interrupt their offense in the final 30 seconds of the game. Lander never sent the Doggies into the bonus.
Tendore missed her final pair of free throws with just a second left in the game, but caught her second miss and put in a follow shot at the buzzer for the 52-45 final score.