HARTLAND — Leading up to its Division 5 WIAA sectional semifinal match up with defending champion Heritage Christian, Fall River fully embraced the underdog mentality.
The Pirates knew they had a tough matchup Thursday night, but they never felt the game was out of reach.
“We knew they were really good and we knew we’d have to play well to be able to stay with them,” Fall River senior Hailey Koch said. “We were as prepared as we were ever going to get. We have been working so hard. We were ready.”
But on the heels of a 14-0 Patriot run for a 51-31 lead heading into the final frame, the margin became insurmountable for
Fall River (24-2). The Pirates fell, 64-44, to the defending state champs.
Fall River coach Jim Doolittle noted that his team was getting the looks they wanted, but the baskets just weren’t falling — as they were for Heritage Christian (23-2).
“We tried to shut them down a little bit and get us back into the bonus,” Doolittle said. “They kind of caught us. We kind of went dry there for a little bit and their shots started to fall.”
While the Patriots’ third quarter effort put the game well out of reach for the Pirates, Fall River used a strong second quarter to make it a five-point game at the half.
Koch netted 10 points for the Pirates in the second quarter while going 6-for-6 from the line. Koch’s effort helped Fall River close a nine-point gap to five at the half.
In the final game of her career, Koch led all scorers with 18 points and went 12-for-19 from the line.
“We executed in the first half like I expected us to,” Doolittle said. “I wanted to get us in the bonus with about five minutes (left) because I knew if we did that we’d hit our free throws. That kept us close.”
Fall River freshman Kelly Tramburg also finished her night in double digits with 15 points — but it wasn’t enough to match Heritage Christian’s three players in double figures. Juniors Tiersa Gillie and Ramiyah Bennett with 14 apiece, and senior Jamera Sandifer with 15.
Despite leaving everything out on the court, Fall River couldn’t hold off Heritage Christian long enough to walk away with the upset.
“It was just the momentum swings,” Koch said. “Their momentum swings were longer compared to ours.”
Heritage Christian 64, Fall River 44
Fall River 8 16 7 13 – 44
Heritage Christian 15 14 22 13 – 64
FALL RIVER (44) – Hailey Koch 18, Alyssa Klecker 9, Kelly Tramburg 15, Megan Waterworth 2. Totals: 11 16-29 44.
HERITAGE CHRISTIAN (64) – Ramiyah Bennett 14, Marianna Bautista 6, Teoncea Bennett 7, Jamera Sandifer 15, Jazmine Harris 8, Tiersa Gille 14. Totals: 24 16-24 64.
3-point goals – Fall River 2 (Alyssa Klecker 2). Total fouls – Fall River 18, Heritage Christian 23.