The bizarre contest began innocently enough as the Lady Bears, energized by their home fans, pulled ahead 10-4 by the end of the first quarter, thanks to five early points from McKenzie Howerton and a pretty baseline layup by Sierra Schwartz.
After the first eight minutes however, the game turned sloppy as both teams committed numerous turnovers and combined to score nine total points during a second quarter that ended with Dolores leading 13-10.
“We really needed to settle the ball down,” Howerton said. “We were getting too antsy. We need to control the ball and set up our plays and play the game that we know how to play.”
An especially significant sequence came midway through the second quarter when Dolores freshman Sidney Smith stepped to the line for two free throws after being fouled.
After Smith missed the first free throw, Dolores was called for a lane violation on Smith’s second free throw attempt and although the ball went through the hoop, officials waved off the basket. Scorekeepers credited Dolores with the point, however, and as a result, the scoreboard incorrectly read 11-6 in favor of the Lady Bears and the error was never rectified.
While the incorrectly awarded point seemed insignificant, it gained in significance as the third quarter moved along and Ridgway seized a 20-18 lead after scoring six straight points.
Sensing that her team was in danger of falling further behind, Dolores head coach Tiffany Hill called for a full-court press, and as Ridgway ball handlers struggled with the pressure, the Lady Bears scored four straight points on layups by Schwartz and Tatum Majors. The Lady Bears pulled ahead 24-21 entering the fourth quarter.
“Coach told us to run (our full-court press) from the start, but we went back to our 2-3 (zone) because of players with injuries and foul trouble,” Schwartz said. “When we put the press back on, we did really well out of it.”
With the game hanging in the balance throughout much of the fourth quarter, the Lady Bears received a significant boost from Howerton, whose midrange jump shot and subsequent free throw due to foul put Dolores ahead 29-27.
A fast-break layup by Howerton shortly after put Dolores ahead 31-27, and later in the quarter, a perfect pass from Howerton to Schwartz resulted in an uncontested layup that put Dolores ahead 35-32.
Underlying the late Dolores run were several apparent traveling violations that went uncalled and drew spirited reactions from Ridgway head coach Nate Firkins, who expressed his displeasure with officials on several occasions.
Capping off the wild game was a near scoring error by officials and scorekeepers, which came when Tatum Majors was incorrectly awarded a second free throw after missing what should have been one free throw after making a basket with 40 seconds left.
A point was awarded to Dolores after Majors sunk the incorrectly awarded free throw attempt, but the point was later taken off the scoreboard after Firkins summoned Dolores athletic director Chris Trusler and the game was temporarily stopped while officials discussed the play.
When the time the final buzzer finally sounded, Dolores players simultaneously congratulated one another and breathed sighs of relief. Howerton led the Lady Bears in scoring with 14 points, Schwartz chipped in 11, and Majors scored 9.
Dolores improved to 7-9 with the win, and Ridgway fell to 0-16. The Lady Bears’ next game will take place Feb. 8 in Norwood.