It was a massive struggle on offense for both Truman and Liberty North in the first half of Thursday’s Class 5 District 15 semifinal game.
That seemed to favor North as it led for most of the first three quarters of the game. But then Truman sophomore guard Deon Monroe took over offensively for the Patriots and guard Becca Gilpin hit some clutch shots and free throws near the end of the game as the Patriots gutted out a 43-36 double overtime win at home.
“This win was rather unconventional; we didn’t shoot it that well,” Truman coach Steve Cassity said. “We did better late. I told the girls that in a postseason run is made up of a ugly win here and there. You take them any way you can get them this time of the year.”
Truman advanced to the district championship game and will play Liberty at 2 p.m. Saturday at Truman.
The Patriots (19-7) survived a rough first half on offense in which they shot just 4 of 19 from the field (21 percent) and 4 of 9 (44 percent) from the free throw line. Truman led 4-3 after the first but trailed 14-13 going into halftime.
Monroe scored six straight points in the third to help keep her team within one (23-22) going into the fourth. The star guard did something she rarely does to put her team ahead for the first time in the fourth. She nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing after receiving a skip pass from guard Kaylie Simonds to put her team up 25-23 early in the fourth.
North later took a 27-25 lead but Monroe again buried a 3-pointer to put her team back up by one. It was a neck-and-neck battle throughout the fourth as Monroe and Simonds hit driving layups to make it 32-29, Truman. But the Eagles’ Emma Perry hit a late three and both teams came up with empty possessions afterward to send the game to overtime.
North went up by two on a pair of occasions in overtime, but Monroe hit 4 of 4 free throws to keep her team in it. After a few empty possessions by both teams, the game needed one more period to be decided.
“I was just feeling it. It was a good day,” said Monroe, who scored 18 of her game-high 25 points from the third quarter to double overtime. “(North) wasn’t putting tight D on me, so there was no reason for me to drive it when I could shoot it. I was wide open about five feet back (of the arc). I needed to step up. My team needed me.”
Added Cassity: “Deon is that type of player. We expect that from her. We watch her 20-plus games this year and see her in practice. No one on our team is surprised by anything she does.
“We talk about it in practice all the time, her 3-point shot looks great. She has a nice stroke. It’s high and soft and it looks good every time, so we encourage her to shoot them.”
After missing her first six 3-point shot attempts, Gilpin hit the most important shot of the game. North missed a 3-pointer to start double overtime. Gilpin then received a pass from Brodi Byrd and sank a three from the right wing to make it 39-36.
Monroe later hit a free throw to extend the lead to four and Gilpin iced it by making two free throws late. Truman held the Eagles scoreless in the final 4 minutes and North missed eight shots.
“It felt good, I just came off a screen and I was wide open,” Gilpin said of her go-ahead three. “I knew that was the one. The other ones were just rushed.”
Added Cassity: “Becca is a tremendous high school shooter. Actually, she can tell you that I am on her all the time about getting loaded and shooting.”
LIBERTY 48, WILLIAM CHRISMAN 29: When a team shoots the 3-pointer like Liberty did Thursday night, things are going to be extremely tough for the opposing squad.
Chrisman was that other team in the Class 5 District 15 semifinals and while the Blue Jays shot 8 of 15 (53 percent) from behind the arc, the Bears couldn’t get going offensively in a loss at Truman High School.
“We rolled the dice and hoped they wouldn’t shoot it as well as they did,” Chrisman coach Scott Schaefer said. “They did and had too many open looks. They have some good players. When they hit two early threes in the third, it was like getting hit with an avalanche.”
Giving Chrisman a heap of trouble was senior forward Kayel Newland, who scored a game-best 20 points. Any time she was open, she made the Bears’ defense pay.
Chrisman, a team that loves to score inside, scored just 18 points in the paint but had a lot of trouble against the Blue Jays’ 2-3 zone. For the game, the Bears shot just 12 for 37 (32 percent) from the field.
“We were a little hesitant on offense,” Schaefer said. “We got in a hurry and our shot selection was questionable, especially in the third quarter.”
The Bears trailed 15-8 after the first quarter and 23-15 at halftime. Liberty then really opened up the floodgates in the third and went into the fourth up 39-21.
Chrisman ended its season at 14-12, and Schaefer was pleased with the way his team played all year, especially with not a single senior on the team.
“We had a lot of games we were really strong in,” Schaefer said. “We had a couple of big wins. It was a growing year. The trajectory of this team is going up and we will continue to get better.”