High School Sports

Thunder struggle in OT

KISSIMMEE - Halfway through the second quarter of Tuesday's Class 1A regional semifinal, Out-of-Door Academy senior Erin Kane walked over to her bench for a rest. As she sat down, Kane told Thunder coach Carl Williams, "They are so boring," referring to the slow-down style deployed by Heartland Christian.

And Kane was correct in her assessment. The Warriors were boring, and the Thunder weren't helping the cause by matching the tempo on the other end of the court.

This all resulted in a boring first half and a 11-9 halftime score. But perhaps Kane should have been careful what she wished for, because the second half of Tuesday's game proved to be anything but boring.

Both teams picked up the pace and the intensity and forced the game into overtime where the Warriors defeated visiting ODA 42-37.

"The thing is, games like this don't go to overtime if people don't really care," Williams said. "Neither team was gonna lay down."

The loss ended the Thunder's longest run into postseason play and stopped the team's hopes of a rematch with district rival Sarasota Christian in the regional finals.

ODA (12-14) appeared to run out of energy and players in the overtime period, as the Thunder couldn't make a field goal and went 2 for 4 from the free-throw line.

Three key starters finished the game on the bench after fouling out, including sophomore Christine LaFrance, who knocked down a 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation to tie the game and send it to overtime.

"It just kind of showed the tenacity of our team," said LaFrance of the late fourth-quarter comeback despite foul trouble. "We're always fighting for it."

LaFrance finished with six points before picking up her fifth foul in overtime and joining teammates Courtney Waggoner and Ro Marchese on the bench with no more fouls to spare.

Guard Melissa Collado took advantage of LaFrance's foul trouble and scored four points in overtime to go with the six she had in the fourth quarter. Collado finished with 13 points, as did her teammate and backcourt mate Bekah Day.

"It's a game of momentum," said Williams. "There were several different times when I could say we had it and several times when you could say they had it. Someone's gotta lose those games."

Many of the Thunder players broke down after the game, but Williams said the best days of ODA basketball are ahead of the girls.

"You could tell it hurts them, but they know what the deal is," Williams said. "It's time for us to get back to work, and we'll be back next year. This won't put a damper on our season at all."

LaFrance will be one of the girls back next season, but what they accomplished this season made the loss hurt that much more.

"It's definitely been a really, really big deal for us," LaFrance said. "This has been the furthest ODA's ever been, so it's a huge step for our team and just for the school in general. Not everyone thought we could go this far, but we knew it, and now we proved it."

OUT-OF-DOOR ACADEMY (37) - Erin Kane 1 0-0 3, Lauren Fallahee 1 3-4 5, Jo Marchese 0 2-4 2, Christine LaFrance 2 1-6 6, Ro Marchese 2 1-1 5, Chelsea Firth 1 0-0 2, Mara Fallahee 1 1-4 3, Gaby Balit 0 0-0 0, Courtney Waggoner 3 4-6 11. Totals: 11 12-25 37.

HEARTLAND CHRISTIAN (42) - Kayla Sullivan 0 2-8 2, Bekah Day 4 4-6 13, Melissa Collado 4 5-6 13, Tristen Jones 3 1-8 7, Jelisa Price 3 1-3 7. Totals: 14 13-31 42.

ODA 5 4 11 15 2 - 37

Heartland Christian 7 4 3 21 7 - 42

3-pointers - Out-of-Door Academy 3 (Kane, LaFrance, Waggoner), Heartland Christian 1 (Day); Total fouls: ODA 26, Heartland Christian 19. Fouled out: R. Marchese, LaFrance, Waggoner; Records: ODA 12-14.

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