Whitefish Bay senior Madilyn Garcia admits that last year free throws were not her strong point. She worked at the discipline in the offseason and especially this week in practice.
It certainly paid off for the third-seeded Blue Dukes. The senior guard drilled three of four free throws in the final 36.5 seconds to hold off a pesky sixth seed Wauwatosa West squad, 27-21, in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal at Whitefish Bay High School on Friday.
Bay advances to No.2 seeded Wisconsin Lutheran on Saturday.
“I’m not sure why but I shoot free throws better when there is a little more pressure,” said Garcia. “This week we played a lot of free throw games in practice and I did alright.”
Garcia’s free throws were much needed points for Bay (15-8), which struggled offensively for much of the game. Bay made just one basket from the field in the second half.
The Blue Dukes first made basket came with 1:55 remaining in the fourth quarter by sophomore Ashley Reed. Before that, Bay had only attempted two other shots in the quarter, as good looks at the basket come at a premium for both sides. Despite the hiccups on offense, Bay still held a slim 20-16 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
The made basket by Reed helped break an 8:33 scoreless drought by both teams. The last basket came from Abbey Jones on a layup for West with 2:27 left in the third quarter. West had difficulties finding their rhythm as they committed 10 turnovers in the second half on 20 possessions.
“We have struggled all season at times to score points,” said Bay coach Greg Capper.” I was trying to manufacture some points there by running all of our sets and plays. At the end of the day we had some players make some plays.”
Reed was one of those players, as she converted one of two free throws with 2:20 remaining to push the Bay lead to three possessions at 21-16. On the next possession, she scored Bay’s easiest basket all night, a break-away layup to crush the Trojans hope for an upset.
“Sometimes nobody wants to be the one to take the shot or take over the game,” said Garcia, who finished with five points, all in the second half.
Jones did all she could to keep West close as she scored 7 of her team's 9 points in the second half including a three-point play with 1:12 remaining to cut the lead to 23-19. Garica drilled enough free throws to secure the win.
“This time of year whether you win by one or 40, you just hope to survive,” said Capper.
Jones finished with a game-high 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting from the floor. Senior Latasha Harmon added eight points for West as just only three players scored.
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