Cotter freshman Ellie Macal (#33) goes for the shot at Thursday’s nail-biter against top-ranked Caledonia. The Ramblers lost 41-44.
by BEN MCLEOD
Cotter’s Lady Ramblers lost to the top-ranked Caledonia Warriors on Thursday night at the John Nett Rec Center in a tight game that kept the crowd on edge and the players hard at work until the very last second of the game.
Cotter was down by six at the end of the first, 19-25, but while frustrated, the Ramblers returned after a halftime focused and ready to play. The Warriors were the team to beat on Thursday and the Ramblers hit the court with purpose, pulling off a stunning display of teamwork, getting the ball to Mary Morgan (#11) for the shot. At the 11:51 mark, Cotter had squeezed forward 33-31.
Caledonia is a quick team who took every opportunity to snatch up turnovers and picked away at any cracks in Cotter play. Those cracks were less about the Rambler defense and more about the Warriors’ ability to disrupt Rambler shooting and running upcourt. The whistles were blowing all night, as fouls on both teams stacked up, and the players on the court moved like lives were at stake. Caledonia’s position at the top of the standings drew more press and bigger crowds than usual, and more than one call was disputed by the audience, but the players on both teams exhibited fine sportsmanship in spite of the stress and high tension.
The six-minute mark had the Ramblers up 39-36, but they couldn’t manage to pull far enough ahead of the Warriors, who gave no quarter. By 3:23 the score was 41-40, a one-point lead that ratcheted up the stress in an already tense game. More fouls against Morgan ended with a time-out and Caledonia free-throw at 1.7 seconds, and a second time out at .4 seconds left both sides of the auditorium and both benches clenching teeth, but those last-second miracles are called miracles because they’re just too rare, and the game ended 41-44 Caledonia.
Cotter’s head coach Pat Bowlin was “extremely pleased with our defense and rebounding. It was a disappointing loss because we no longer can win the conference championship.” But coach Bowlin is confident that they can secure a first-round home playoff game on Thursday, February 22.
The Lady Rambler’s next game is at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, February 12, at Wabasha-Kellogg, rescheduled from January 23.