Duffney’s bucket stings ‘Birds
By Greg Bates
DE PERE – Carley Duffney was admittedly nervous.
The Green Bay Preble sophomore had never hit a game-winning shot in a high school basketball game. She recalls scoring one during AAU, but that just isn’t the same.
Duffney had a chance to be the hero on Thursday against of one her team’s rivals, De Pere.
With Preble trailing 48-47 with 3.8 seconds remaining in the game, the Hornets had the ball under their own basketball.
Preble head coach Jim Doell had a play all scripted out for his girls.
“We had a double screen coming off for Ella Bialkowski to get the three in the corner, but they switched out well on it,” Doell said. “Usually when teams switch out on it, Kendall (Renard) is open in the post, but they did an awesome job of defending our one and two options. We got the ball to Duffney, and she’s a playmaker.”
Duffney took the inbounds pass, dribbled into the lane, and awkwardly, the right-hander jumped off her right foot and tossed up a shot near the rim with her left hand.
“I just kind of threw it up there,” Duffney said. “I was not expecting it to go in at all.”
But it went in.
Duffney’s teammates rushed the court and mobbed her. It completed a nice comeback by the Hornets in a 49-48 Fox River Classic Conference victory.
The last half a second of the game went into slow motion for Duffney as the ball was in the air.
“It felt like a million years,” said Duffney. “I just stood there and stared and just prayed that it would go in.”
It was a tough pill to swallow for a De Pere squad that held the lead from the 10:15 mark of the second half until Duffney’s game-winning hoop.
“I’m very proud of our girls for how hard they worked,” said De Pere head coach Jeremy Boileau. “Preble’s a great team – they bring up a lot of mismatch problems inside and out. It’s just a matter of taking care of the ball at the end of the game and some passes.”
De Pere (14-7, 10-7 FRCC) held a 48-45 lead before Preble (19-3, 16-2 FRCC) got two free throws from Renard with 33 seconds left.
Redbirds guard Rachel Kerkhoff brought the ball up the court and Preble’s pressure defense forced a bad pass that went out of bounds with 25.3 seconds on the clock.
Holding for the final shot, the Hornets almost turned the ball over as well.
There was a loose ball in the lane that players from both teams dove for and the officials whistled a jump ball. Preble retained possession, which set up the heroics from Duffney.
“I got hugs all over me,” Duffney said. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”
The game was a dogfight the entire night.
Preble, which is ranked No. 10 in Division 1 in the latest WisSports.net Coaches Poll, took its biggest lead at 18-11, but De Pere closed the opening half on an 8-3 run to cut its deficit to 21-19 at the break.
With the game tied at 28-28, De Pere scored the next five points, as Ella Schneider put her team in control by draining a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws. The Redbirds took their biggest lead of the game, 38-32, with 7:59 remaining.
Preble responded by closing out the game on a 17-10 spurt.
Down most of the second half, the Hornets stayed the course and pulled out the win.
“These girls have been resilient,” Doell added. “We’ve been in these kinds of games all year. We talked after the game, I said, ‘We continue to coach hard – the whole entire staff because we know that they’ll get themselves back in position.’ And things worked out in our favor tonight.”
De Pere’s only field goals in the final 7:59 were three 3-pointers by Natalie Cerrato.
“I thought we had good possessions, we just didn’t finish them,” Boileau said.
After scoring just two points in the first half, Duffney came through with 14 in the second, including seven critical points in the final 6 minutes.
“I know that at the beginning I wasn’t doing a very good job at finishing but then at the end, I know that my team kind of needs me to make those kinds of plays,” Duffney said. “So, I tried to just get my head in the game and tried to finish my shots more.”
With the postseason starting next week, both Doell and Boileau know a close, down-to-the-wire game will benefit both teams. But with the victory, it might give Preble a little extra boost in its tough sectional.
“We’ve got some teams from down south that will be very difficult,” Doell said. “The fact that we’ve been in a lot of close games in a great conference with great coaches definitely is going to help us out for the future.”
Green Bay Preble (49)
Kendall Renard 8-10 16, Hannah Beauchamp 0-0 3, Taylor Sleger 0-0 4, Carley Duffney 5-5 16, Ella Bialkowski 3-4 6, Dominique King 0-0 2, Samantha Voelker 0-0 2.
De Pere (48)
Ella Schneider 2-2 5, Elena Miller 0-0 6, Natalie Cerrato 0-0 18, Jordan Meulemans 0-0 7, Rachel Kerkhoff 1-2 12.
Preble: 21, 28 – 49
De Pere: 19, 29 – 48