The Pierce girls basketball team (16-8) defeated Wayne (17-9) Thursday night, its third win over the Blue Devils this season in three tries, to advance to next week’s district final against fourth-ranked Ord (23-0) — a 60-39 winner over O’Neill.
The Bluejays received contributions from several players in their 47-39 victory — and needed all of them to hold off a no-quit Wayne effort that saw the Blue Devils battle back from a 10-point deficit twice in the fourth quarter to trail 44-39 with 33 seconds left following a Kylie Hammer bank-shot 3 from the point.
“We had big games from all five starters, and Brianna Aguilera came in tonight and did an excellent job as a spark plug for us; she hit some shots and had a big layup in the fourth quarter,” Pierce coach Darren Sindelar said.
Senior Carly Sutherland provided 17 points and helped junior post-player Maggie Brahmer control the defensive boards, while Sidney Zimmerer was the Bluejays’ primary ball handler against Wayne’s aggressive man-to-man defensive pressure.
“I’m sure Maggie was double-digit rebounds again tonight; she has been every game this year,” Sindelar said. “She’s big on the defensive boards for us; if we didn’t have her there in the middle I think we’d be in trouble on the defensive side of it.”
Brenna Collison contributed with rebounds, defense, and two big second-half field goals, while Kayla Simmons totaled six assists and two free throws with 15 seconds left to put the game out of the Blue Devils’ reach.
Aguilera came off the bench and scored on a drive from the wing in the 10-10 first quarter then, after missing her first two 3-point tries buried 3s on back-to-back possessions as part of a 10-2 Pierce run midway through the second period for a 22-14 Bluejays’ lead.
Hammer, who finished with 24 game-high points, answered with seven of the Blue Devils’ final nine points of the half to cut the deficit to 27-23 at the half but Wayne, which had held the lead during the game’s initial six minutes, would never regain it.
The Blue Devils struggled to score from the field, making 16-of-64 field goal attempts, including 2-of-20 3-point tries.
“We tried, with our 2-3 zone, to keep Hammer out of the lane; we know that she wants to go to the basket, so we just tried to be as big and tall as we could and, if she was going to finish, she would have to shoot over the top of us,” Sindelar said. “Then we were trying to find their other two primary outside shooters, (Frances) Klausen and (Ashton) Boyer; a couple of their other kids hit some big shots from the outside, but sometimes that happens when you’re focusing so much on others.”
In the third, following a Gabrielle Meyer 3 and a Hammer drive, the Blue Devils trailed 30-28, but Aguilera scored on an assist from Simmons and Brahmer scored inside to return the Bluejays’ advantage to 34-28.
Hammer answered with a driving layup for Wayne, before Collison beat the third-quarter buzzer from the block following a Sutherland assist to give Pierce a 36-30 lead that expanded to 40-30 two possessions into the fourth period on another Aguilera drive and Zimmerer’s assist inside to Sutherland.
“We wanted to be patient (offensively) because we knew they were going to double the post, and we knew somebody else was going to be open,” Sindelar said. “If we could move the ball we’d always be able to get that inside look somewhere, or we could attack the middle with drives or find outside shots.”
A momentary lapse in free throw shooting prevented Pierce from adding to its lead in the fourth quarter.
After a Klausen field goal and another Hammer drive cut the Bluejays’ lead to 40-34, Collison scored for Pierce and then Simmons missed two free throws, but Brahmer grabbed the second miss for her biggest free throw of the night and fed Sutherland to return the lead to 10, at 44-34 with just under two minutes left to play.
During the next minute-and-a half the Bluejays missed three-consecutive front-ends on bonus free throw chances, giving Wayne — with a basket by Jamie Gamble and the 3 by Hammer — the chance to close within 44-39 before a free throw by Sutherland and two by Simmons finished scoring in the 47-39 Pierce win.
“That happens sometimes, but we had the right person there,” Sindelar said. “We’ve got some quality free throw shooters that can normally finish at the end of a game.”
Sindelar and his team are familiar with Ord, which ended the Bluejays’ season in 2017.
“Last year we lost to Ord in the district final; they were young last year and have a lot of their players back,” he said. “They will be good.”
Pierce (16-8).......10 17 9 11—47
Wayne (17-9)......10 13 7 9—39
P: Kayla Simmons 0-5 2-4 2, Sidney Zimmerer 1-5 2-2 5, Brenna Collison 2-4 0-0 4, Brianna Aguilera 5-11 0-0 12, Carly Sutherland 7-8 3-8 17, Maggie Brahmer 3-5 1-3 7. Totals: 18-38 8-17 47.
W: Frances Klausen 1-12 0-0 2, Kylie Hammer 10-25 2-3 24, Jenna Trenhaile 2-8 2-2 6, Ashton Boyer 0-2 0-0 0, Gabrielle Meyer 2-13 0-0 5, Molly Hoskins 0-1 0-0 0, Jamie Gamble 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 16-64 4-5 39.
Pierce girls win C1-5 sub-district final