HUTCHINSON — Environments such as the Class 3A girls basketball tournament will always lead to some sort of adversity.
With so much at stake, finding a sense of solitude is crucial.
Marion senior Kristen Steinborn had plenty of time — 11 basketball minutes, which equated to close to 30 in real time — to find her bubble of privacy before taking the shot that ended a scoreless streak featuring 10 missed shots and seven turnovers.
“For me, I was pretending like I was out on my driveway in middle school shooting,” Steinborn said. “I just squared up and shot.”
The shot counted for only three points in Marion’s 42-41 semifinal victory over Jefferson County North on Friday night, but another three 28 seconds later by Steinborn provided clarity to a once-dismal situation.
“It gets frustrating,” Marion’s Lindsay Hett said. “When you’re not hitting anything, it’s like should we shoot it, should we not shoot it? Should we go inside, or outside? But once one falls, it gets exciting.”
Or at least, sets up excitement. There’s no way to paint a pretty picture of how the teams became intertwined at 41 with 35 seconds remaining, but there’s no denying the exciting finish.
Hett was faced with her own challenge of calming the nerves when she was fouled on a follow shot with 12 seconds left. Even more so when she missed the first free throw to leave the score tied.
“You just have to calm down the breathing and take some deep breaths before you take the shot,” Hett said.
But when Hett overcame her obstacle by breaking the tie with a made free throw, it wasn’t the last one left. Marion still had to survive the best shot from Jefferson North’s Jordan Kramer, who led all scorers with 24 points.
In the finale, Kramer received the ball at the top of the key with four seconds left, pump-faked, drove and anticipated contact but didn’t receive it and her shot was too hard. The scramble for the loose ball ended in a tie-up.
“Buzzer, buzzer, buzzer!” Marion coach Randy Savage remembered yelling.
Whistles and buzzers sounded simultaneously, ending the game and leaving a delayed reaction from both teams.
Marion advanced to the title game against Thomas More Prep at 4 p.m.
Zeiner scored a team-high 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Marion and Hett and Herrey scored 10 apiece.
“We came in as the sixth seed and now we’re going to the championship game,” Zeiner said. “Nobody thought Marion would be up there and now we are.”
Thomas More Prep 52, Garden Plain 42 — The Owls had their own time to work through their adversity.
A five-minute scoring drought to open the fourth quarter let a three-point deficit slip away to a 44-34 hole.
“You got to find something to get the fire underneath them,” Garden Plain coach Sarah McCormick said. “We had to start pressing and hopefully our defense could create something for us, because our offense didn’t come through for us tonight.”
But when the Owls needed offense the most, the shots didn’t fall. Garden Plain can look to 29.8-percent shooting as its downfall.
Ann Pauly and Camille Hubert each scored 13 points to lead the Owls.