No. 5 Krum Storms Back in Fourth Quarter to Beat No. 14 Liberty-Eylau 60-56 in 3A Region II Semifinal
COMMERCE — Liberty-Eylau built an 11-point third-quarter lead against fifth-ranked Krum in Friday night’s Class 3A Region II semifinal, but Rachel Wallace took over in the fourth.
Krum’s senior guard spearheaded a 13-1 run that saw the Lady Cats go from seven down to five up, and her 16 fourth-quarter points proved the difference in a 60-56 win against 14th-ranked Liberty-Eylau that sends Krum to Saturday’s regional championship.
Krum (28-6) plays No. 15 Pittsburg (32-5), which beat No. 16 Celina 41-36 earlier Friday, at 1 p.m. Saturday in the 3A Region II title bout. Liberty-Eylau finishes the 2012-13 season with a 26-5 record.
Wallace led Krum with 22 points and three assists. She scored 19 points after halftime. Julia Schmaltz scored 16 points, including 14 in the first half, to accompany seven rebounds and four assists. Teammate Callie Craddock had 10 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
Wallace’s late offensive exploits coupled with Liberty-Eylau’s crippling foul trouble to create a perfect storm for the Lady Cats, who were down 38-27 beyond the third’s halfway mark and 46-39 with 6:43 remaining in the game.
Liberty-Eylau’s Sharde’ Collins was called for her fourth foul with 6:01 left and had to leave the game. Eleven seconds later, the 13-1 run started. Liberty-Eylau standout Imani Wright picked up her fourth foul on a charge call with 3:43 remaining and L-E clinging to a 46-44 lead. Then Callie Craddock and Diamond Martinez scored back-to-back buckets to give Krum its first lead since 4-3.
“Sharde got her fourth foul with six minutes to go and we had to take her out for a few minutes and the lead went (down) to two,” said L-E coach Rob Cochran. “It’s hard to play through it when you go to the basket, score, somebody falls down and it’s a foul. But that’s not any excuse. You’ve gotta make plays.”
Wright, who recorded game highs with 26 points and 10 rebounds, hit three free throws a three-pointer in final 1:09. The three-pointer cut Krum’s lead to 56-53 with 26 seconds left. After Krum split a pair of free throws, L-E’s Alize’ Pegue hit a three-pointer with five seconds left to trim the gap to 57-56. Pegue then stole the inbounds pass, but Krum’s Allison Beck intercepted Pegue’s attempt at an assist to a teammate under the basket. Collins was forced to commit her fifth foul, but only 0.4 seconds remained.
A technical gave Krum four free throws, three of which Wallace hit, for the four-point victory margin.
Collins, an Arkansas-Little Rock signee, had 14 poitns and six rebounds to complement Wright, who will play her college ball at Baylor. L-E post Lauren Godfrey, who is committed to NJCAA D-I Connors State in Oklahoma, finished with 10 points.
Collins, Godfrey, Wright, and Pegue join classmate Chelsea Forward as Liberty-Eylau’s seniors. Collins, Wright, and Pegue all played significant minutes as freshmen for L-E’s 2010 state championship team. Wright was named state tournament MVP on that squad.
Class 3A Region II
No. 5 Krum 60, No. 14 Liberty-Eylau 56
Liberty-Eylau — 15 14 13 14 — 56
Krum — 8 15 14 23 — 60
Liberty-Eylau (26-5) — Imani Wright 26, Sharde’ Collins 14, Lauren Godfrey 10, Alize Pegue 5, Morgan Utsey 1.
Krum (28-6) — Rachel Wallace 22, Julia Schmaltz 16, Callie Craddock 10, Allison Beck 5, Diamond Martinez 5, Caitlyn Arnold 2.