By Jeff Linder
DES MOINES — Back and forth. And back and forth.
Bre Oxley converted a three-point play with 34 seconds left in overtime, then top-ranked Springville sidestepped a final 3-point attempt in the waning seconds and outlasted No. 5 North Butler, 46-45, in a Class 1A semifinal at the girls’ state basketball tournament last night at Wells Fargo Arena.
The game featured 12 ties and 12 lead changes, the last one courtesy of Oxley, probably the fifth option on the team.
“I did a couple of moves, cut to the basket, then focused on the free throw,” she said. “I guess I pulled it off.”
The Orioles (26-1) will pursue their second straight 1A championship Friday night at 6. They’ll face No. 3 Ackley AGWSR (26-0), a 47-40 winner over George-Little Rock.
“It’s going to take a lot of heart,” Oxley said. “Hopefully, we’ll do what we’ve done all year.”
North Butler (22-2) fell for only the sixth time in the school’s 130-game, five-year existence. Springville extended the game on Katie Eiben’s basket with 7 seconds left in regulation, then won it on Oxley’s play late in overtime.
Bobbi Boomgarden missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds. Springville’s Callie Kloubec corralled the rebound — her 11th of the game — and the horn sounded as the ball was loose.
“Our defense forced them to miss, we had the block-outs and it turned out well for us,” said Sarah Davidson.
Neither team led by more than four points all game.
Oxley scored six straight Oriole points late in the fourth quarter, and when Eiben scored on a spin move with just over a minute left, the O’s had their fattest lead, 36-33.
It didn’t stick.
Elizabeth Schroeder hit two straight treys, the second of which put the Bearcats in front, 39-37.
But Eiben banked home the tying basket.
“We never had the look of defeat,” Eiben said. “We never doubted we could win.”
Eiben’s basket put Springville up, 43-41, with 1:57 left in OT. But baskets by Boomgarden and Carly Jacobs swung the pendulum back in the Bearcats’ favor, 45-43.
Then Oxley drove to the heart of the lane, drove home the tying points and swished the go-ahead foul shot.
“Bre’s better off the dribble-drive than anything. We wanted her to drive the middle,” said Springville Coach Brian O’Donnell.
“The kids made plays when they had to. You never underestimate the heart of a champion. I’m thrilled with how they kept battling back.”
Last year’s all-tournament captain, Eiben scored 16 points to lead all scorers.
Davidson added 10 points, Oxley nine. Neither scored before halftime.
The Orioles managed just four field goals (in 16 attempts) in the first half.
Schroeder paced North Butler with 14 points, making 4 of 5 3-point shots.
Free throws weren’t so free for the Bearcats. They made only 4 of 15.
“That hurt us a little,” said North Butler Coach Kevin Clipperton. “Our kids battled all the way. We were just one play away.”