Rebels win Three Rivers Conference

Published 12:44 am Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Southland's Elizabeth May battles inside for a rebound during the first half against Chatfield Tuesday night in Adams. - Eric Johnson/

ADAMS — The Rebels survived a frantic finish to hang on to their 12th win in a row when they beat Chatfield 68-64 to win their first Three Rivers Conference girls basketball championship since joining the conference in 2001 in Adams Tuesday.

Southland (23-2 overall, 16-2 Three Rivers) had one turnover and missed four of six free throws in the last 30 seconds, but it was able to hang on to the emotional win.“This is what we worked for the whole season,” said Southland senior Madi Schmitz, who finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists. “Chatfield’s always been our rival and we used to lose to them when we were little. It feels good to beat them now.”

Southland's Haley Kirkpatrick drives on Chatfield's MaKenzie Miller during the second half Tuesday night in Adams. - Eric Johnson/

Schmitz hit a free throw with four seconds left to clinch the game, but that wasn’t until after Chatfield’s Sarah Costello, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds, missed a game-tying three with eight seconds left.

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Southland led 43-35 when Jana Schammel hit a step-back three with 16:20 left in the game, but the Gophers (21-6 overall, 14-4 Three Rivers) used an 8-0 run that was capped by a Candace Gould three to take a 52-48 lead with 11:03 left in the game.

Southland didn’t flinch in face of the adversity and it regained the lead for good with a 6-0 run that saw Haley Kirkpatrick, who had 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, hit four free throws and Megan Mullenbach covert a steal for a lay-up to make it 57-54 with 5:40 left.

“We went back to man-to-man defense and got them to take a few shots that they didn’t want to,” Southland head coach Bob Sheehan said. “The girls didn’t panic, they battled through it and they kept working hard. Most of them are third year players so they’ve pretty much been through everything. They wanted to win this one and they put it in their mind that they were gonna do that.”

Schammel, who had 19 points, three assists, and four steals, gave the Rebels a 65-60 lead when she dribbled around her back for a cross-over to her left hand and finished strong in the lane in the face of Chatfield’s big front line.

Southland's Madi Schmitz drives during the first half against Chatfield Tuesday night in Adams. - Eric Johnson/

The Gophers had a size advantage, but it didn’t slow down the Rebels’ attack.

“Since they were a lot bigger, we wanted to get them in foul trouble and go to the middle and not worry about their size,” Schammel said. “We wanted to push the ball up the court and tire them out.”

Kelli Smith added 12 points, six rebounds and three steals for Southland.

The Rebels will close out their regular season at Kasson-Mantorville Thursday before they open the Section 2AA playoffs next week.

“Right now they’re not satisfied,” Sheehan said. “We’ve still got one more game left and the playoffs and they plan on going for awhile. “

Chatfield 34 30 — 64

Southland 39 29 — 68

Southland scoring: Jana Schammel, 19; Kelli Smith, 12; Haley Kirkpatrick, 12; Madi Schmitz, 11; Lindsey Bottema, 8; Megan Mullenbach, 4; Elizabeth May, 2; free throws: 65 percent (22-for-34); rebounds: 40 (Kirkpatrick, 8; Schmitz, 8); turnovers: 21

Chatfield scoring: MaKenzie Miller, 15; Sarah Costello, 14; Kirsten Keefe, 12; Sidney Irish, 6; Erin Kammer, 6; Candace Gould, 5; Traci McDonald, 2; Karlee Moulton, 2; free throws: 59 percent (10-for-17); rebounds: 45 (Costello, 13); turnovers: 23