In a trying season with a roster that featured just two seniors, the Norwalk girls basketball team saw its season end in close fashion on Wednesday.
Trailing Clear Fork by three points with under 20 seconds left, Norwalk’s Elena Barber was whistled for an offensive foul. Shooting two foul shots with 11.3 seconds left, Clear Fork missed both — but Brooke Robinson was there for the rebound putback with 9.5 seconds left to seal a 48-43 win for the Colts at the Monroeville Athletic Complex.
Clear Fork (6-17) draws state-ranked Bellevue (20-2) in Saturday’s sectional title game, while Norwalk closed out its season at 4-18.
The Truckers led 22-16 with 6:35 left in the third quarter, but were outscored 21-5 over the last six-plus minutes of the quarter to trail 37-27.
Much of that damage was done inside, as Norwalk was getting beat with easy baskets underneath in transition. The Colts were 10-of-14 shooting in the quarter.
“We lost them a few times running the floor,” Norwalk coach Brock Manlet said. “They killed us from the high post a few times. It was all stuff we worked on, I don’t know if we lost a little focus there after halftime or what.
“But we had a hard time gaining back the defensive intensity we had in the first half,” he added. “We looked a little defeated in the third quarter with our body language. We challenged them a little bit and I was proud of the way we responded. Elena gets a steal there down three and she had a chance to go to the foul line, which I thought she should.”
One of two seniors, Masci Horner opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer for Norwalk, then Barber added two points to immediately bring the Truckers within five (37-32) with 7:04 left.
Norwalk trailed 44-38 with 2:13 left after a basket by Kali Weikle for the Colts, but got an answer in the form of three straight foul shots around Clear Fork turnovers. Alex Nolan and Barber made the free throws, and it was a 44-41 deficit with 1:35 left.
But the turnovers continued to hurt both teams, as they combined for 50 turnovers in the 32 minutes. Norwalk’s Skylarr Story made two foul shots with 43 seconds left to pull her team within 46-43.
That’s when Barber got the steal at midcourt off Clear Fork’s final turnover — and drove straight to the basket, where it was ruled the Colts’ defender had maintained control when her and Barber made contact.
That set up the final sequence where the Colts put the game away on the Robinson putback.
Norwalk had led 12-4 in the second quarter, and 16-14 at halftime.
“I was proud of the kids for fighting,” Manlet said. “I think all year we’ve done a good job of keeping our heads up and playing as hard as we possibly can. Obviously we came up on the short end more times than we wanted to, but I’m proud of them for staying positive and playing as hard as they can.”
For Norwalk, Barber had 12 points, four rebounds and two steals. The other senior, Paige Maurer, scored 10 points in her final game. Horner added six points, while Lindsey Koenig added five points and three assists.
With most of the roster back, Manlet talked about what the Truckers need to do in order to climb back up the SBC Lake Division standings again.
“We need to be in the gym,” he said. “In 28 days we’re going to open up the gym again and we’re going to start to work again. We don’t want to do this again, in terms of struggling like this.
“The younger kids know what they have to do, and there will be a lot of opportunities for them to be in the gym and get better — and we hope that they’re all there,” he added.
Masci Horner 2-0—6; Lindsey Koenig 1-2—5; Elena Barber 2-8—12; Paige Maurer 4-0—10; Alex Nolan 2-3—7; Skylarr Story 0-2—2; Kayla Cring 0-1—1. TOTALS 11-16—43.
CLEAR FORK (6-17)
Reagan Marshall 1-2—5; Carson Crowner 3-1—8; Kali Weikle 5-0—10; Alli Studenmund 3-1—7; Brooke Robinson 5-0—10; Morgan Galco 3-0—8. TOTALS 20-4—48.
Norwalk 10 6 11 16 — 43
C. Fork 4 10 23 11 — 48
3-point FGs: (N) Horner 2, Maurer 2, Koenig; (CF) Galco 2, Marshall, Crowner