Norwalk did everything they could to defeat Perry Tuesday night, with the possible exception of leaving Grace Marburger, and later, Emma Olejniczak, just enough room to get a shot off.
Marburger’s 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime, with Olejniczak’s trey as the horn sounded in the extra period giving Perry a 41-40 victory in their non-conference battle.
Marburger dribbled with nine seconds left in regulation and said she could clearly hear her own bench.
“They did a good job of letting me know how much time I had,” the junior guard said. “The big thing was that Grace (Stewart) and Alyssa (Kruger) set two great screens that gave me an open look. It felt good when it left — I knew it was going in.”
Perry (2-6 overall) trailed, 35-28, with one minute to play in the fourth quarter when Marburger drained a 3-pointer and, after a pair of missed foul shots by Norwalk (2-6), Stewart scored off an offensive rebound to close the gap to 35-33.
Rylee Origer — who had missed the previous two fouls shots — sank the second of two with 10.2 seconds left to push Norwalk to a 36-33 lead. The Warriors, leading by three, had two fouls to give and could have easily elected to simply send Perry to the foul line but instead opted to play the game out, only to have Marburger’s third triple of the contest force an extra four minutes of basketball.
Tori Van Velzen scored inside for the guests, then added another bucket after two Marburger free throws to give the Warriors a 40-38 edge with 27 seconds to play.
Van Velzen missed twice at the line, but Perry missed a hurried shot with 15 seconds left, forcing the Jayettes to foul. The strategy worked perfectly, as Kennedy Scallon came up empty in two attempts, giving Perry one last chance.
The Warriors were not about to let Marburger beat them and quickly slapped on a double-team, which left Olejniczak — who was only 1-of-11 from the floor at that time and had hit just 1-of-6 behind the line — unguarded, allowing the junior to loft a shot from the right wing with 1.1 seconds left. The ball nearly went in, bouncing straight up over the cylinder and then falling through the nylon as the horn sounded, sending the Jayettes into a frenzied celebration.
“The play was designed for Grace (Marburger) but they doubled down on her,” Olejniczak said in describing her heroics. “I think they knew I was not much of a 3-point shooter so they left me more or less wide open. I was short on the last ‘three’ I took, so all I thought was that I couldn’t leave it short, that I had to get it over the front of the rim.”
Olejniczak had turned the ball over less than a minute earlier with a pass sailing through her hands, but said she knew she could not allow herself to dwell on the miscue.
“I just shook it off and put it behind me and said ‘I have to make the next play’ and fortunately I did,” she said. “Every one of us who played tonight had something to do with this win and I think that gives us, as a team, a lot of confidence moving forward. Our record is not what we want it to be, but our goal is to keep raising our level of play each game and be at are best at the end of the season.”
Perry held a 9-8 lead after one quarter, but Van Velzen helped guide the guests to a 19-14 halftime edge, then sparked a run that put the guests ahead, 26-16, midway through the third period.
Three-pointers on four possessions — first from Olejncizak and then consecutively from Kruger — helped Perry trim their deficit to 28-25 entering the final stanza.
Poor foul shooting plagued Norwalk throughout the contest and was the largest contributing factor in their loss, as the Warriors sank only one of their last 10 foul shots over the final minute of regulation and through the overtime. The visitors finished just 8-of-25 at the stripe while Perry was 4-of-9.
Van Velzen’s 22 were a game high, with Anna Laire adding five points and Shelby Nelson and Origer four points apiece. Scallon had three points and Miranda Hughes two to complete the Norwalk scoring list.
Marburger had 21 points despite missing much of the third quarter after receiving a bloodied nose in a collision. She had three rebounds and three steals to aid the winning cause. Olejniczak, Kruger and Taylor Lathrum contributed six points apiece, with a Stewart basket capping the scoring.
Lathrum had seven rebounds, Olejniczak six, Victoria Hegstrom five and Kruger four, with Mariah Duffy adding two caroms and two steals. Kruger, Duffy and Olejniczak had two assists each and Marburger one.
Perry hosts Carroll Friday, then entertains Des Moines Hoover Monday in a girls-only set that will end the pre-holiday portion of the Jayette schedule.
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