For three and a half quarters, the Brookfield Central girls basketball team gave Divine Savior Holy Angels and its star freshman Arike Ogunbowale all they could handle.
But over the course of two pivotal minutes late in the fourth quarter, the Dashers busted open a tight contest to knock off the defending Greater Metro Conference champion Lancers by a misleading final margin of 54-38 on Tuesday at DSHA.
Up 40-36 with three minutes to play, Ogunbowale sparked an 11-0 run by pushing the tempo and scoring in transition. A basket by Central junior Sarah Fotsch finally stopped the bleeding with 52 seconds left, but the damage had been done.
"That's the snowball effect," Central head coach Dan Wandrey said. "We got down, started taking quick shots, missing a lot of outside shots [resulting in] long rebounds, and all of a sudden it's bust out, bust out...."
Ogunbowale scored nine consecutive DSHA points in the fourth quarter and tallied 20 of her game-high 23 points in the second half, more than offsetting her poor shooting early on.
"Offensively she's incredibly gifted, and it's tough to keep her down the whole game," DSHA head coach Scott Witt said of his talented point guard. "I could see she was frustrated a little bit, but to her credit she stayed after it and made some plays down the stretch that gave us some breathing room and really changed the complexion of the game."
Wandrey could live with allowing one standout performance but not two, and DSHA (5-2, 2-0) also got 19 points from junior Maggie Novak, who picked up the slack in the first half with 14 points.
"We said at halftime, 'OK, she's got 14, but no one else has (many); if one of them gets their 22 and no one else gets a lot, we'd be OK with that,'" he said. "But (Novak and Ogunbowale) kind of tag-teamed us."
Even with Novak hitting from the outside, the Lancers kept it close for most of the game thanks largely to the effort of senior forward Anna Liewen, who almost single-handedly kept Central's offense afloat in the first half. Liewen scored 14 of her team's 21 points before the break, as the Lancers went to the locker room trailing, 23-21.
"She's one of the strongest players we play against, and if she gets the ball within 6-8 feet of the basket, you're going to have a hard time keeping her from getting a good shot off," praised Witt.
But Liewen picked up her third foul early in the third quarter and never regained her rhythm. She finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
That left the Lancers supporting cast to pick up the slack and, for a while, it looked like they might be up to the task. When sophomore Lydia Rohde (nine points) sliced through the DSHA defense for a layup, the Lancers pulled within 36-33 with less than five minutes to play.
That's when Ogunbowale took over.
After winning the last four Greater Metro titles, the Lancers are off to an 0-2 start in conference play. While Wandrey felt this game was emblematic of the road traveled thus far this season by his young squad, which features only two seniors, he clearly believes the season still holds plenty of promise.
"Every game it's been something different that we let it get away," he said. "We gave up a bunch of offensive rebounds again tonight, and that's inexcusable to me because the kids work their butts off for x amount of seconds playing defense and then don't finish it off. So we've shown some flashes, but you got to be consistent at this level."
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