WIESBADEN, Germany - Players, coaches and fans knew the battle between Kaiserslautern and Wiesbaden for the Division-I girls championships would be a close one.
After all, Kaiserslautern and Wiesbaden, seeded No. 1 and 2 in the tournament split a pair of regular season games with a difference of nine combined points.
After Saturday, you can now call Ktown Title Town, as the top-seeded Red Raiders edged the Warriors in yet another tight contest, 30-28.
The game ultimately came down to free throws and Kaiserslautern’s Martha Bonilla sank four key shots from the charity stripe in the game’s waning moments to secure the victory for her team.
Bonilla, who finished with six points on the day, said she just tried to block everyone out as she stepped up to the line.
“Everything we had to go through this season to get here basically came down to those shots,” Bonilla said.
The first free throws put her squad up 28-26 with 1:50 left and the second pair, with 12.4 left on the clock, sealed the deal by making it a two-possession game.
For a while, it looked the Warriors would be celebrating in front of a hometown crowd as they were able to hold the Raiders scoreless in the third quarter and built what seemed like a comfortable 10-point lead heading into the final 8 minutes of play.
If facing a double digit deficit wasn’t enough, the Raiders were forced to bench their 6-foot-2 senior Angie Powell, who picked up her fourth foul early in the second half. Powell, whose sheer presence is enough to disrupt opposing offenses, never returned to the game.
The reason wasn’t just to save Powell in case the game headed to overtime; it was because Kaiserslautern got hot and decided to ride the wave of momentum with the group it had on the court. Kaiserslautern scored 11 unanswered points to open the fourth quarter, where it totaled 17 to Wiesbaden’s 5.
Kaiserslautern coach Corey Sullivan said his team talked about the things they needed to do after the third quarter to get the Raider train back on its tracks.
“We talked about moving the ball and attacking the basket, which we weren’t doing,” Sullivan said.
Despite the Red Raiders streak, Wiesbaden hung around, trading jabs and blows with Kaiserslautern. After all, neither team had another game to play anytime soon.
Although Bonilla admitted she was nervous about how her team would handle their earlier deficit, her teammate Teranda Dunlap said she wasn’t sweating it, although she’d probably sing a different tune if asked the same question before the fourth quarter started.
“I knew we could catch up,” said Dunlap, who hit a three-pointer with 5:15 left in the game that tied it up after her team trailed for much of the game. The crucial bucket accounted for three of her game-high nine points. Johanna Quinn notched eight for the Raiders.
Wiesbaden’s Maggie Mosley was the high scorer for her team with seven. Six different Warriors scored. Senior Lauren Barry, an all tournament team selection, scored six and Kaitlyn Velsvaag added five.
Sullivan, a 13-year coaching veteran, said he’s proud of his girls, the third championship group of girls that he says he’s coached.
“This one’s special, a great group of girls,” Sullivan said.