Lady Panthers 60, Lady Bulldogs 56:
Savanna’s defense threw off Pittsburg’s ball-handlers, but mounting fouls forced the Lady Bulldogs to go further and further down their depth chart.
The Lady Panthers didn’t shoot well at the free-throw line overall, but Mikal Wainscott shot Pittsburg into its first Pitt 8 championship game since 1977.
Wainscott (13 points) knocked down four free throws in a row in the final minute, helping the Lady Panthers beat the Lady Bulldogs 60-56 in the semifinals.
Pittsburg plays Kiowa in the championship Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
“One thing that makes me nervous for Saturday, I know that we’re going to be a nervous wreck Saturday night playing Kiowa out here,” Pittsburg coach Wes Wood said. “(Kiowa’s) used to it. They’ve played in the state tournament.”
Wood added, “When you shoot 16 out of 38 free throws, you make it tough on yourself.”
Savanna led by as many as 14 points early in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Bulldogs’ inability to defend without fouling kept sending Pittsburg to the line. Chandler Billingsley (with a team-high 18 points) knocked down two free throws, then after a Savanna miss Billingsley found Erin Cross for a 3-pointer that made it 40-34 Savanna.
Another 3-pointer by Cross pulled Pittsburg within 2, but Payton Little knocked down a jump shot for a 47-43 lead going into the fourth quarter. Savanna built its lead back to 8 early in the fourth, but Leighah Carney and Wainscott went a combined 5-for-6 at the line to pull to within 3.
After misses by both sides, Cross’ 3-pointer tied the game 51-51, and fouls had long since put Pittsburg into the bonus. Billingsley’s layup put the Lady Panthers up 53-52 with two minutes left in the game, but Destiny Raleigh tied the game with a free throw.
A defensive rebound led to a layup by Trinity Johns and a 2-point Savanna lead, but Billingsley got 1 point back with a free throw. Savanna turned over its next possession, then Billingsley found Wainscott in the low post for a layup and a 56-55 lead with 48.6 seconds left.