By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Lutheran West girls basketball team is hot at the right time, ending the season with three victories, the last against the same Independence team they defeated on Saturday 35-31 at St. Joseph Academy in the Division III sectional opener.
The game was tight in the beginning, with the score 10-9 in favor of Lutheran West at the end of the first quarter. The Longhorns pulled to an eight-point lead to go into halftime up 22-14.
In the third quarter, Independence came back to within a point before Lutheran West junior center Amanda Stephens connected on two foul shots and a field goal to make the score 28-23 at the end of three.
Each team committed multiple fouls during the fourth quarter, with the charity-stripe shots being the difference. Lutheran West made theirs, and Independence did not.
“It came down to free throws,” Longhorns head coach Josh Campbell said. “We only had two field goals the entire second half. It’s important to get to the free throw line and make them.”
Junior guard Lindsey Thomas led the Longhorns in scoring with 13 points, including three key foul shots in the fourth quarter, followed by Katherine Konstan with 10, Stephens with six, Lindsey Tomola with four (all on fourth quarter free throws) and Ari Tomasula with two points.
The Longhorns will battle fourth-seeded Brooklyn in the sectional finals on Saturday. Brooklyn has already defeated Lutheran West two times this season.
“We’ve played them two times this season and we know what we need to do to beat them,” Campbell said.