Freeport girls use free throws to hold off Apollo-Ridge
The Freeport girls basketball team held a tenuous three-point lead on Apollo-Ridge at the end of the third quarter of the teams’ Section 1-4A finale Friday evening.
But the Yellowjackets were able to hold on with the help of a productive final quarter from the free-throw line. Freeport made 13 of 17 free throws in the fourth to produce a 55-46 victory.
“We knew coming in that Apollo-Ridge is an aggressive team, and they tend to foul a lot,” Freeport coach Fred Soilis said. “We thought that might be a factor. We had a lot of chances at the line in the fourth, and we made our shots.”
The Yellowjackets (17-4, 12-2) also converted 9 of 10 from the line over the game’s final 1 minute, 17 seconds.
Freeport’s win meant that Knoch clinched a playoff spot from the section.
Greensburg Salem, Knoch and Apollo-Ridge finished tied at 7-7 behind North Catholic (14-0) and Freeport. The tiebreaker for the three teams was head-to-head results. Greensburg Salem swept Knoch and Apollo-Ridge, so the Golden Lions are the No. 3 team.
It then came down to head-to-head for fourth between the Knights and Vikings. Because they split their season series, both teams qualify.
“As soon as the game was over, I tweeted to (Knoch), ‘Welcome to the playoffs,’ ” Soilis said. “I’m happy for them.”
The game was Freeport’s third in as many days and fourth this week. Friday’s game was to be played Feb. 1, but the frigid temperatures last week postponed the matchup.
“These kids are pretty tired, but they played well tonight,” Soilis said. “They were clutch down the stretch.”
Apollo-Ridge played for the second straight day. The Vikings, who finished their regular season at 15-7, also suffered a loss Thursday to Greensburg Salem.
“Last year, we went into the playoffs hungry because we had several losses in a row,” Apollo-Ridge coach Jim Callipare said. “Hopefully, these last couple of losses make us a little more hungry. We have some work to do, but we’re happy to be in the playoffs. We made it in after moving up (from 3A), and there’s something to be said for that.”
Sidney Shemanski, Freeport’s leading scorer, fouled out with 6:17 left in the game and the Yellowjackets holding a 36-31 lead.
“I’ll take ownership of Sid,” Soilis said. “I didn’t realize she had gotten her fourth, or I would’ve made adjustments. It’s my fault for not paying closer attention to my assistants or the book.”
Soilis was happy with the way his team rallied after that and held onto the lead.
Apollo-Ridge cut the Freeport advantage to 44-42 on a Maddy Moore layup off a turnover with 2:23 left. But Freeport scored the next six points — Madeline Clark, Harley Holloway and Samantha Clark converted two each from the free-throw line — to extend its lead to eight at 50-42 with 58 seconds left.
Madeline Clark led all scorers with 20 points. Samantha Clark scored 10 of her 12 points in the final quarter, and Harley Holloway hit a trio of 3-pointers en route to 14 points.
Maddy Moore, who fouled out with 1:17 left, led Apollo-Ridge with 19 points. Rylee Eaton scored nine of her 13 points in the second half.
The Vikings led 17-16 with 3:35 to play in the second quarter, but Freeport closed the first half on a 12-2 run to lead by nine at the break.
Apollo-Ridge countered with a 10-0 run over the first half of the third quarter to trim a 12-point deficit to 31-29.
“We had opportunities the whole game,” Callipare said. “But we just made too many mistakes to win against a good team like Freeport. We fought back and got close a couple of times, but they would make a run to answer us.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at [email protected] or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.