CARLINVILLE — The East Alton-Wood River Oilers lost a heartbreaker on Monday and it might have been just what the doctor ordered.
The Oilers fell 40-37 in overtime to the Bunker Hill Minutemaids during pool play at the 50th annual Carlinville Holiday Tournament. EA-WR led 31-28 with 32 seconds left in regulation and owned a 33-31 lead early in overtime, but couldn't hold up for the win.
The loss saw the Oilers dip to 2-13 overall on the season and 0-2 in Carlinville. Bunker Hill improved to 2-11 and 1-1 in tournament pool play.
There was suspense, competitiveness and adversity, things that have been foreign to EA-WR for the most part in head coach Emily Van Natta's first season at the helm of the program. For example, the Oilers lost 62-12 on Saturday to Gillespie.
“It's taking the feeling of competing,” Van Natta said. “We're down a lot in games and that's a hard feeling to swallow. This was exciting. The girls on the bench were excited, the girls playing were excited, everybody is ready to go and on the edge of their seats. I tell them it sucks to lose, I don't like to lose, I'm competitive, but when I see them play like they did today and take it on their shoulders and bear the responsibility and take it, say, 'This is mine, this is what I'm going to do and I'm going to fight for it.' It's been hard for them, because they've been down so much and they haven't had that feeling. I told them, 'Savor this feeling, play with this next time. The scores will change if you play with the intensity you did today.'”
Bunker Hill has been in the same boat and head coach Tim Mellenthin said his team can take a lot of confidence from clawing their way to victory on Monday.
“This is big for us,” Mellenthin said. “We really need a win. We haven't had a win except for our second game of the year, so we're getting pretty deep in the season and the girls are getting tired, coming in having long practices, they're getting down and it's really big for us to get a win against a team like this. A close game experience like that and to come out on top is good for us.”
EA-WR utilized a 10-0 spree to close the third quarter with a 25-20 lead and were clinging to a 31-28 lead with 32 seconds left in regulation when Mellenthin called a timeout. He gathered his squad and worked up a play to get a 3-pointer to tie the game. His plan didn't happen the way he imagined it, but he still got the result he wanted.
Ashley Dey fired up a trey from the corner to tie the game at 31-31 with 21 seconds remaining.
“We had designed a play to get a 3, set a couple screens and come off of it and get a 3 out of the corner, but they let us set up out there and I told them to get it in and shoot it,” Mellenthin said.
Junior Carly Campbell gave the Oilers a 33-31 lead with a field goal to start overtime, but Mallory Schwegel answered 30 seconds later for the Minutemaids to tie it at 33-33. A basket by Dey at 2:28 put Bunker Hill in front for good, 35-33.
The Minutemaids hit 3 of 4 free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal it after not sinking a shot from the charity stripe since the second quarter. Dey's trey at the end of regulation was the only made shot from beyond the 3-point arc for Bunker Hill in the game, too.
“They hadn't hit a 3-pointer and they did right there,” Van Natta said. “For our girls it's just a confidence thing... They did well, it's just freaking out at the end and not knowing where the ball is. We talk about something in the huddle and it doesn't happen like that. We just haven't had a lot of close games at the end.”
Campbell did her part to attempt to will her team to victory. She scored a team-high 17 points, including 13 in the second half and all 6 of the Oilers' points in overtime.
“She's a good player,” Van Natta said of Campbell. “She's an under pressure player and she doesn't mind taking it on herself. I thought she was fouled at the end, but that doesn't matter, things are missed throughout the whole game. Don't blame the whole game on that, there is something else we could have done. She takes that very well, she handles the ball for us and I don't like taking her out because she gets us going with her hustle and she shows everyone else how to do it.”
The play Van Natta referenced was a 3-point attempt at the end by Campbell contested by a Bunker Hill player. No contact was called by the referee as time expired.
Early on the game was a seesaw battle. EA-WR led 12-8 after the first quarter, but were contained to just two points in the second quarter to trail 16-14 at the break.
Courtney Beneke then kick started the 10-0 run with 3:28 to go in the third quarter. Another bucket from Beneke at the buzzer sandwiched two shots from Campbell and a pair of Beneke free throws.
Beneke complemented Campbell with 10 points for the Oilers.
Dey led all scorers with 22 points. Bunker Hill's Madelyn Hillman joined her in double figures with 10 points.
EA-WR continues pool play vs. Nokomis at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. Bunker Hill faces Gillespie at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Placement games are scheduled for Wednesday in Carlinville.
CARLINVILLE HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT
(Red Pool play)
BUNKER HILL 40, EA-WR 37 OT
Minutemaids 8 8 4 11 9 — 40
Oilers 12 2 11 6 6 — 37
OILERS (2-13) — Carly Campbell 17, Courtney Beneke 10, Becca Renken 2, Abbie Cathey 2, Sydney Slayden 4, Anna Stangle 2. 2FG — 14 3FG — 0 FT — 9.
MINUTEMAIDS (2-11) — Madelyn Allman 10, Natasha Schellingburger 4, Mallory Schwegel 4, Ashley Dey 22. 2FG — 15 3FG — 1 FT — 7.