‘Every shot mattered’: Badin girls basketball one win away from state semifinal berth

Rams top Columbus Bishop Hartley; league rival Carroll up next in Friday’s regional final

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

SPRINGFIELD — Tom Sunderman looked at his Badin girls basketball team last summer and didn’t see much height. He saw guards who could shoot and drive.

When the Rams needed baskets the most in Tuesday night’s Division II regional semifinal, the summer changes and extra work paid off. Mahya Lindesmith hit a go-ahead 3-pointer and Jada Pohlen drove for the clinching layup to lift the Rams to a 50-49 victory over Columbus Bishop Hartley.

“We’re athletic but we’re not a big team,” Sunderman said. “So we have to open the inside, the driving game, with the three.”

The Rams (18-9) will play GCL Co-ed rival Carroll at 7:30 Friday night at Springfield for the regional title. The Patriots (19-4) are two-time defending regional champions and beat Badin beat twice this season, once by three points in overtime and by 12 the second time.

Lindesmith made 52 3-pointers this season, the most on the team, but late in the game she hadn’t made one. Fifteen seconds after Hartley (15-6) took the lead on a 3-pointer, Lindesmith made hers with 2:13 left for a 48-47 lead.

“Throughout the whole game every shot mattered,” Lindesmith said. “I knew it was time to step up and make something happen, though. We needed it in that moment, and I felt confident to take it.”

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

With 1:10 left, Pohlen attacked the basket and scored for a 50-47 lead just when it seemed the Rams might hold the ball and force Hartley to foul.

“With the offense we like to run, we give complete opportunity for anybody to drive in, and I had full faith in Jada in the moment,” Lindesmith said. “I knew she was going to make the right play.”

With 25 seconds left, Hartley went inside to 6-foot-3 Ella Brandewie to trim Badin’s lead to one. After Badin missed a free throw and Brandewie fouled out, the Hawks got a tightly contested 12-footer that missed the rim and bounced out of bounds to Badin with 1.6 seconds left.

Hartley had called a timeout with seven seconds left, and Sunderman said the team wanted to stay in man for Hartley’s last possession, switch on screens and keep the ball from going inside. Pohlen switched onto Hartley’s Milyana Williams off a screen and Maddie Thompson stepped out to sandwich Williams on her final shot for Hartley.

“It came down to our girls believing,” Sunderman said. “Jada pulled the girls together in the last three timeouts that were called and just kept telling the girls, ‘We’re gonna get this. Don’t worry about it.’”

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

Lindesmith led the Rams with 10, Pohlen had nine, Morgan Dixon eight and Thompson seven.

Five Rams – Pohlen, Thompson, Lizzie Meyer, Mangino, Dixon – each made a 3-pointer in the first nine minutes to stake Badin to a 23-11 lead. Hartley chipped away at the lead before finally tying the score early in the fourth.

“They were chasing us the whole game instead of us having to chase,” Sunderman said. “It’s tough to come back.”

While the Rams were working on a new offensive strategy this summer, they also welcomed Lindesmith to the team. She moved in from Missouri. Sunderman said you never know how a new player will fit in, but the transition was good for Lindesmith, the team’s leading scorer, and her new teammates.

“To their credit, girls like Ella Mangino and Morgan Dixon and a couple others have really taken her in and developed a relationship and made her feel like part of the family,” Sunderman said.

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