SERGEANT BLUFF | Bricelyn Comstock and her teammates were having fun.
Comstock is the only senior on West’s girls basketball team. Obviously, a young team that also started three juniors and a sophomore turned to her for leadership.
Comstock delivered in a huge way, providing 35 points and 11 assists Tuesday night as the spunky and fearless Wolverines posted an 88-87 double-overtime win over a more-experienced Sergeant Bluff-Luton squad.
“It was an incredible game,” said Comstock. “I’m just lucky that our whole team was able to pick it up at the end. That was a really big win for us. We needed that after the hard games we’ve had recently. That’s a good SB-L team, so for us that was a great win. I’m really proud of us.”
Comstock made a season-high seven three-point baskets for Coach Betsy Boetger’s squad, which avenged a season-opening 55-54 defeat to the Warriors. Three of those threes came in the fourth quarter for a squad that rallied from a 68-60 deficit and she opened up a 79-76 overtime lead with two threes.
“She’s capable of having a game like this,” said Boetger, whose 5-7 squad ended a four-game losing streak. “She was just feeling it. She was loose. And our girls were having fun. The girls were smiling out there, they were communicating, they were working hard. They were playing as a team, playing how they know they can play.”
Comstock then scored the first six points of the second overtime. Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s Kenzie Foley turned in 31 points and 20 rebounds, contributing three of her team’s six first-overtime points and all eight of her team’s second-overtime points.
Free throws were a factor for both teams in that second overtime. Sergeant Bluff-Luton (5-5), which set the stage for overtime by missing eight of 13 free throws, missed two in the game’s last four minutes, yet nevertheless rallied to tie the game 87-87 on Foley’s basket with 7.9 seconds left.
The game nearly went to a third overtime. Comstock and Ashleigh Fitzgerald combined for five consecutive free throw misses in a 16-second stretch before Fitzgerald ended her 0-for-3 stretch by connecting with 2.6 seconds left.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton still had a chance to take the winning shot, but Emma Salker missed an off-balance attempt.
“I think if we could do some of those little things down the stretch, even at the end of regulation, if we can hit free throws and stick to our fundamentals and execute, we wouldn’t have had to go into the first overtime,” said Sergeant Bluff-Luton Coach Miranda Riediger. “We were a little thin. It hurts to lose your point guard in Brooklyn Huberty (to five fouls) because she was playing well tonight.
“Really, I think it comes down to free throws and executing,” she added. “We got great looks. Obviously, if we’re putting up 80-some points, even in the second overtime, that’s a lot of offensive looks in a game. That wasn’t hurting us. It was getting stops and trading baskets.”
Fitzgerald and Nia Moore each tallied 11 points for West, which won for the third time in the last four games of the series. Fitzgerald’s offense included a three-point basket after a teammate’s steal at the halftime buzzer, as West scored 14 points off turnovers.
Hope Wagner added 10 points and eight rebounds for West while Andrea Vazquez contributed 10 off the bench. Vazquez, Fitzgerald and Comstock, by the way, are the only veterans from last year’s 16-7 team that reached the Class 5A regional finals.
Huberty and senior classmate Abby Wisecup contributed 17 and 16 points, respectively, for Sergeant Bluff-Luton, which entered having won four of its previous five games. Salker, a 5-11 freshman, finished with 11 points for a squad that had trailed 73-72 on Wagner’s basket with 22 seconds remaining in regulation, but forced overtime on Wisecup’s free throw with eight ticks left.
“This is a big momentum win,” said Boetger. “We battled. We knew going into this game playing at their home they’d be a tough team because they battle inside. We are young. We had stretches where we grew up a lot in this game. We showed heart and character. We’re proud of them for how much they battled. We wanted it.”
“I think this win could get us back on a winning streak,” said Comstock, who had made five threes in the skid. “Playing scared against a team isn’t how you’re supposed to play. You have to play big if you want to beat a team. You have to play more confident and that’s what we did tonight. We played more confident.”