Stampeding over the Bulldogs, Elm Creek upsets Pleasanton at home
Despite facing only four teams with winning records in their first 11 games, Elm Creek girls basketball proved they have what it takes to compete against the best of D1.
Upsetting No. 2 (NSAA Wildcard) Pleasanton, the Buffaloes took first place in their district, stampeding their way up to NTV's Team of The Week.
Rivalry night turned into upset night. Determined to protect their home court, Elm Creek did what no team could do this season, knocking down the Pleasanton Bulldogs 50–42 - snapping their 14-game win streak.
"We weren't scared," Elm Creek senior Claire Cornell said. "I mean we were expecting a good game, we know where we can play basketball and Pleasanton knows where they can play basketball. I guess it was just the confidence boost in us that helped us get it done."
Determined to stop one of D1's best scoring offenses, the Buffs defense owned the court against the Bulldogs, coming up with 26 turnovers, only allowing Pleasanton to take the lead once.
"One of the first times we really played as a team and not just individuals," Elm Creek junior Allison Bauer said. "That's a real big step in our game and I think that really kind of messed with Pleasanton."
"Before the game coach said 'set the tone,'" Cornell continued. "I think that's what we want to do, you don't ever want to chase after a team, you want to make them chase you."
With their chances fading, the Bulldogs did manage to overcome a late 10-point deficit to tie it up. But a timeout by coach Ford helped Elm Creek draw up their final plan to take off, and never look back.
After Pleasanton knotted the game up with less than two minutes to go in the fourth, the charity line turned into the Buffaloes sweet spot, as they took advantage of four fouls to drain eight freethrows, sealing the deal for their fifth consecutive win.
"In moments like that you have to focus on decision making and what your best decision is," Cornell said. "I mean the pass, or play is not going to be there the first time and you have to be patient."
"It's fun to see the kids step up to the line in high pressure situations," head coach Mike Ford said. "I told the kids we are going to have to secure the ball and you're going to get fouled and you're going to go up and knock down free throws. The fact that they're able to walk up to the line with a bunch of confidence, it's good to know they have that mental toughness."
The Buffaloes' next challenges will come on Friday as the team hits the road to face 13-3 Ravenna, then host 14-3 Overton on Saturday.