Girls basketball: Niagara holds off Suring in OT

Niagara's Jaida Maki, left, shoots against Suring on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, in Niagara, Wis. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

NIAGARA, Wis. — Niagara rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half to beat Suring 60-49 in overtime Thursday.

Niagara outscored the Eagles (7-7) 13-2 in the overtime period for the M&O Conference win.

“We were in jeopardy there for a bit,” Niagara head coach Karl Lamoreaux said. “The thing about this team is they never lay down and quit. They never stop fighting.”

Jessica Oratch led Niagara with 19 points and 10 rebounds followed with Jasmine Racine’s 17 points and 10 rebounds. Jaida Maki also had 10 rebounds for the Badgers.

The Badgers (11-3) fell in a 10-point hole eight minutes into the second half.

Then, Suring’s steady 3-point shooting dried up and the Eagles had a rash of turnovers. Within three minutes, the Badgers were within three points.

Niagara hung around Suring’s heels before taking a 39-38 lead with seven minutes to play on a second-chance basket by Maki.

The Eagles opened up a 43-39 lead with four minutes to play and maintained the four-point lead until a minute and a half to play.

A Sydney Dunkes layup and a bucket by Racine tied the game with 40 seconds left and Suring missed a pair of free throws right after.

The Badgers called a timeout with 18 seconds in the game and drew a play.

Racine took the inbounds pass and moved back and forth around the perimeter before dumping it inside. The initial shot missed and Oratch grabbed the rebound in the waning seconds but her second-chance shot bounced off the rim to force overtime.

The Badgers took control in the four-minute overtime with a quick free throw and bucket. Suring scored its last bucket of the game with 2:18 left and Niagara sealed the win with a 10-0 run.

The Badgers made 18 turnovers in the game, with a few coming at a time in the first half when Suring knocked down shots from the outside. The Eagles made eight 3-pointers on the night including five in the first half and four alone by Wylee VanBellinger, who finished with 15 points.

“It was a very interesting game. Suring can shoot the lights out,” Lamoreaux said. “VanBellinger had four 3s in the first half — they certainly can shoot. We tried to cover the perimeter with a 3-2 and it didn’t work. Once we switched to the 1-3-1, that really seemed to slow them down quite a bit. Very happy with the way we played the 1-3-1. We were a little closer with a hand up. My wings have got long arms, so they don’t have to be right on you.”

Suring head coach Shaun Wagner said the missed free throws in the second half were a key.

“One more would’ve been nice, eh?” he said. “Those free throws are very critical in a close game like this and we were not able to capitalize in the second half, that’s for sure. Kudos to Niagara. It was a good game.”

Despite the loss, Wagner said having his young players in high-pressure situations was a valuable experience.

“We’re relatively a young team here,” Wagner said. “We’ve got a couple seniors here that play a bunch of minutes but we have a couple freshmen, three sophomores that are playing a lot of minutes. They gotta learn about that. The pressure situations are different than when you’re up by 15.”

The Badgers cobbled together an offensive rhythm in the second half without their linchpin 5-foot-10 junior Cassie Gill, who’s out with an injury.

“Other girls have to take responsibility for this team,” Lamoreaux said. “Cassie’s a captain and she’s out, so someone else has to step into that position. I thought Cailin Hagerty did a nice job. I thought Sydney Dunkes did a really good job. They did a real nice job. They combined for nine points between them. We lost a little bit, but not a whole bunch.”

Suring JV won.

Niagara visits Lena on Monday, while Suring hosts Coleman.

Suring 25 22 2 — 49

Niagara 21 26 13 — 60

SURING (49): Stelzer 16, VanBellinger 15, Krueger 7, Runge 4, Wagner 3, Bubolz 2, Griffin 1, Smith 1. FT: 11-23. F: 19 (Runge fouled out). 3PT:

NIAGARA (60): Oratch 19, Racine 17, Cretton 6, Maki 6, Hagerty 6, Payette 3, Dunkes 3. FT: 10-19. F: 17. FG: 23-59. 3PT: 4-11 (Racine 2, Payette 1, Maki 1). Rebounds: 50 (Oratch 10, Racine 10, Maki 10). Assists: 16 (Maki 6). Blocks: 9 (Oratch 4, Hagerty 4, Racine 1).