Greenwood and Whiteland played with the intensity inherent in a rivalry game, with bragging rights and Mid-State Conference implications at stake.
It took 31 minutes, 59 and seven-tenths seconds to determine the victor in Friday night’s match-up between the crosstown girls basketball rivals.
The Woodmen’s Chloe Orrvar inbounded to Kelsie Ratliff with 3.6 seconds remaining under Greenwood’s basket with Whiteland holding a 42-40 lead. Ratliff posted up in the paint, then passed out to Orrvar in the left corner. She drained a 3-pointer with three-tenths of a second remaining to give the host Woodmen a 43-42 win.
The victory triggered a celebration for Greenwood and despair for Whiteland, primarily because of the dramatic finish. But the game also had huge Mid-State Conference implications.
Greenwood clinched at least a share of its second consecutive conference crown, improving to 5-0 in conference play and 11-3 overall. The Woodmen can win the title outright with a win Jan. 18 against Decatur Central.
Whiteland, meanwhile, fell to 6-9, but entered the game with a 2-1 Mid-State record. A win would have kept the Warriors squarely in the conference hunt.
“This was a conference championship game,” Greenwood coach Debbie Guckenberger said, describing her team’s approach. “(Whiteland) had just as much at stake as we did.”
The Warriors played like it. They attacked the basket, drawing 24 free-throw attempts and hitting 16. They committed just 10 turnovers, including only three in the second half, and helped force Greenwood into 18 miscues.
Whiteland’s aggressive offensive play placed Greenwood in foul trouble early. The Warriors drew the bonus with 47 seconds still to play in the third quarter, fouled out Woodmen leading scorer Deauna Evans with 57 seconds left in the game, and two other Greenwood players committed four fouls each.
“We’re starting to value the basketball, and after the first quarter, we got stops,” Whiteland coach Kyle Shipp said. “The kids played their tails off. We make one more play and we win the basketball game.”
Greenwood bolted to a 9-2 lead, keyed by back-to-back Evans 3-pointers, but Whiteland rallied to tie (13-13) before the first quarter ended. From there, neither team led by more than five points.
The Woodmen seemed to take some semblance of control with 3:22 remaining, after Sarah McLeod scored the second of back-to-back baskets to give Greenwood a 38-33 lead. Whiteland responded with a Jordyn Francis 3-pointer. The Warriors’ Chelsea Perry hit 3 of 4 free throws on consecutive possessions to give Whiteland a 39-38 lead. That set the stage for a wild finish.
Ratliff hit a fade-away jumper and was fouled with 40.8 seconds left to give Greenwood a 40-39 lead, but she missed the free throw. Whiteland’s Kaitlyn Phillips was fouled on the ensuing possession and hit a pair of free throws with 36 seconds remaining, then after a Greenwood turnover and foul, the Warriors’ Annie Polley hit one of two from the line to give Whiteland a 42-40 lead.
Ratliff appeared to tie the game with a 12-foot jumper with six seconds left, but was called for traveling. Whiteland, however, couldn’t get the ball inbounds, and lost it with 3.6 seconds left, setting the stage for Orrvar’s heroics.
“That (last) play was designed for Kelsie to get a layup, but those two (Ratliff and Orrvar) have so much confidence in each other. When the ball went to Chloe, I knew it was going in,” Guckenberger said.
Evans led Greenwood with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Ratliff added 14, with 10 in the second half. Orrvar (seven) and McLeod (six) rounded out the Woodmen’s scoring.
Michaela Harris led Whiteland’s balanced scoring effort with 12 points, followed by Perry (11) and Francis (10).
Greenwood returns to action Tuesday at New Palestine. Whiteland is off until Thursday when it plays at Jennings County.