The Bucklin Lady Aces used their defense to slow down Ashland on two separate occasions after halftime and then held on for comebacks by the Lady Bluejays for a 45-41 victory and a spot in the girls championship in the Southern Plains –Iroquois Activities Association tournament at United Wireless Arena.
The Lady Aces didn't allow an Ashland point for almost eight minutes of the second half and for more than two minutes of the four-minute overtime in getting the victory in the defensive showdown.
"We knew we needed our defense and our goal was to shut them down," said Bucklin's AJ Cossell. "They have great shooters, but our defense is what won us the game."
Morgan Hood scored 18 points to lead Bucklin, while Allyson Rudd added 12 in the Lady Aces' victory. Canaan Endicott scored 18 and Shelby Luerman eight to lead Ashland.
The first quarter saw neither team taking more than a two-point lead with the Lady Aces claiming a 14-13 lead after eight minutes of play. Endicott had seven of Ashland's points in the period,
Bucklin (9-2) scored the first two baskets of the second stanza to increase the margin to six, but the Lady Bluejays wouldn't back down and cut the deficit back to 21-20 at intermission.
The third quarter turned into a pastry store with many turnovers made by both teams as the respective defenses took control. Ashland (9-3) was able to regain the lead a couple of times in the stanza, but the Lady Aces led 28-26 going into the final period.
Bucklin scored five points in the final quarter and didn't allow a point until a three-pointer by Shelby Luerman with 1:36 remaining in regulation. The Red Aces hit two free throws before Ashland fought back with Endicott hitting two three-pointers, the second with 10 seconds remaining to force overtime with the two teams tied at 35-35. Bucklin missed two front end of a one-and-one before both of Endicott's baskets from beyond the arc.
The Lady Aces scored the first seven points before Ashland made a run of their own. The Lady Bluejays had a chance to tie the game on a steal, but committed a turnover of their own. Hood hit a short jumper to seal the victory.
"We knew we need to do and that was to continue playing defense and knock down our shots," Hood said.
The Lady Aces will play in the girls championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday night. Ashland will play in the third place game scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
BUCKLIN (45) – Janae Price 9, AJ Cossell 2, Morgan Hood 18, Allyson Rudd 12, Taylor Stout 4. Totals 16 10-18 45.