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Tiger girls avenge early loss to Falcons

Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta scored five points in the last 10.1 seconds to avenge an earlier 22-point defeat to Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City Friday in West Central Conference South girls' basketball action. The Tigers were defeated 67-45 in January and needed some late game heroics to pull this game off.

With the 63-61 victory, the Tigers improve to 12-3 in the conference and 18-4 overall.

"A-C-GC has a great inside duo in Liberty Slinden and Kayla Dallman (at 990 career points after the game)," said coach Ken Gagner. "We knew we were going to have trouble stopping them and both players had big games again. The difference was that we were hitting shots ourselves which allowed us to hang around."

The game started with the Falcons jumping to a 10-point lead at 22-12, but the Tigers stormed back to lead 27-26 at the half. The Tigers continued their surge to start the second half getting ahead by nine before the Falcons made their own run.

At the 4:42 mark, A-C-GC had completed their comeback and led 56-51. Behind two consecutive baskets by Nicole Gillespie, and scores by Alissa Melberg and Mary Rentz, the Tigers tied the score at 58 with just over a minute remaining.

Slinden would score next, and after making the free throw the Falcons led by three. Tiger Jenna Nelson then went coast to coast and drained a three, her second of the night, to tie the score.

"That was a huge play," said Gagner. "We had called a play during the time out and A-C-GC had changed their defense so Jenna just had to improvise. She's a pretty cool cucumber and it was great to see her hit the shot."

The Falcons immediately called a timeout with 1.4 seconds to go. From under their own basket, the Falcons went for the long pass to win the game but threw the ball out of bounds. The Tigers were then given the ball and senior post and captain, Megan Dierks, catching the inbounds pass from Rentz, buried a 14-footer at the buzzer to finish the game.

"We had nine girls take the floor tonight and all nine scored," Gagner said. "Obviously, you need every point in a game like this, and I was just very pleased that our bench players were prepared and ready to go when they came into the game.

"It was a total team effort and really a fun game for the fans to watch."

Three Tigers were in double digits. Dierks led the team with 15 points, including three treys. Nelson was a perfect 6-6 from the free-throw line and 2-2 from beyond the arch for 14 points. Rentz added 12 points.

Also scoring for the Tigers were Gillespie with nine, Melberg with four, Heather Gagner and Stefanie Strobel with three apiece, Kelly Ritter with two, and Kelsey Amundson with one.

Gagner dished out a team-high six assists, while Nelson recorded four.

Gagner also notched three steals.

Rentz and Strobel grabbed four rebounds apiece to lead the Tigers.