Seniors Clarece Jansen and Faye Meissner scored in the opening 90 seconds of overtime and the Central Cougars went on for a 41-38 win over city rival Mater Dei on Monday in a Clinton County girls basketball game.
Guilty of 11 first turnovers and 19 for the game, Central (5-1) struggled against a suffocating Knights’ defense for the first three quarters. With Mater Dei junior Kierra Winkeler and sophomore Shannon Lampe leading the way with 14 points each, the Knights (3-2) led by as many as eight points, and still led 27-25 entering the fourth quarter.
Meissner, who led Central with 14 points, gave her team its first lead — 31-29 — when she scored on an offensive rebound with five minutes remaining. The Cougars led 35-33 until Knights senior Myah Beckmann tied the game with 1 minute and 30 seconds remaining.
Both teams came up short with chances to win the game at the end of regulation.
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But when Jansen and Meissner, a University of Missouri-St. Louis recruit, scored to start the overtime, Central (5-1) had the lead for good.
“This is an enjoyable group of girls to coach. I’m pleased at the the way they kept battling and we did enough to win the basketball game. That’s what counts,” Cougars coach Nathan Rueter said. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well and with this group, it stops shooting when that happens.
“I keep telling them that they have to keep shooting because eventually some of them will go in. We made just enough shots to win tonight.”
While Central dominated in the first two minutes of overtime, Mater Dei committed a pair of turnovers, and when Central senior Carson Newkirk blocked a shot, giving her team the ball with a four-point lead with 1:45 left, the Cougars appeared to be in business.
But Meissner missed two free throws and Winkeler hit a 3-point basket to make the score 39-38 with 1:09 remaining. But the Knights would get no closer.
“I thought both teams played very well. It was a great basketball game,” Knights coach David Kohnen said. “We had some chances, but I thought we played hard and gave a great effort.
“You never like losing, But this type of game helps gets you ready for the post season. It’s a game you’ll remember in February.”
Mater Dei held a 19-13 lead at halftime. The Knights, fresh off a 46-42 win over Belleville West last week, jumped out to an early 9-2 lead on a pair of baskets by Lampe and a 3-point field goal by Winkeler. The Knights also missed five layups in the first quarter that ended with Central senior Olivia Wesselmann connecting on a 3-point shot as the Cougars drew to within 11-7.
Mater Dei took its largest first half-lead — 15-7 — on a basket by Lampe. But the Knights managed only four points the remaining six minutes of the half.
Central, which was led by Wesselmann and Meissner with five points each in the first half, had 11 turnovers in the first two quarters.