By Jordan Nailon

ROCHESTER — In the first few minutes of action here on Wednesday it looked like Rochester was going to get run out of their own gym.

Then, in the last few minutes it seemed like the Warriors were going to waltz off their home court with a win and their ticket punched to the 2A District IV girls basketball tournament.

But with 0.6 seconds left in overtime all the home team could do was watch and wish things were different as Hockinson put the finishing touches on a 66-65 victory in the captivating pigtail playoff game.

Trailing by five points with less than a minute remaining in overtime Ellie Ritter calmly sank a 3-point attempt. Then, following a clutch defensive stop, and still down two points with the final seconds of overtime blazing off the clock Ritter received a pass in the corner and behind the arc. With a Rochester defender closing in rapidly Ritter put up a rushed overhead and two-handed desperation attempt that fell well short of the hoop.

But when the familiar bleat of a referee’s whistle resounded across the court it became clear that the end had not yet arrived. So with just a fraction of a second left on the scoreboard Ritter stepped up to the charity stripe and proceeded to sink all three of her attempts in order to rip a victory from the jaws of defeat.

Ritter finished the game with a team-high 25 points.

“This was one of those woulda, coulda, shoulda games,” Rochester coach Davina Serdahl said. “We had it right there with a four point lead we just let it slip away.”

After falling behind by 10 points in the first five minutes of the contest the Warriors were able to fight back to tie the game at 21-21 early in the second quarter. Then, as time grew short in the first half, Paige Winter dropped in a shot from the post that gave Rochester their first lead of the night at 27-25.

After retreating to their respective locker rooms deadlocked in a 28-28 tie the teams spent the next 16 minutes trading points via their preferred methods. For Hockinson that meant raining in a barrage of long range looks while the Warriors focused on feeding their post players on the block.

Paige Winter scored a game-high 30 points for Rochester with nearly all of her shots going up from the painted area. Winter also snagged a dozen rebounds. Courtney Kerbaugh added a dozen points and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds for the Warriors.

Unfortunately for Rochester, Kerbaugh fouled out midway through the fourth quarter and all of a sudden their presence in the post was cleaved in half.

“That was a killer. It’s detrimental for sure because she’s our garbage player. She cleans up our misses and grabs those rebounds and is just a force inside,” Serdahl noted. “Everybody knows that Paige is our go-to player but (Courtney) does all of those other little things that don’t go in the stats, per se.”

Hockinson was able to capitalize on Kerbaugh’s absence down the stretch and carved out what a larger-than-it-looks five point lead with just three minutes left in regulation. However, a barrage of free throws by Lexie Jones-Sederberg in the final minutes helped the Warriors work back to a 56-56 tie with 35 seconds remaining.

Jones wound up with 15 points and twelve rebounds in the game. That included an 11 of 14 effort from the free throw line.

“She doesn’t quit. A lot of players that she guards have a couple more pounds on her and she gets thrown around like a ragdoll but she hangs in there,” Serdahl said. “I’ll tell you what, out of our twenty games she must have had at least ten double-doubles, as a point guard.”

With eight seconds left in regulation Sederberg-Jones pulled up for an open look from beyond the arc and what felt like the entire unincorporated burg of south Thurston County watched and celebrated as it found the bottom of the net. The only problem for the Warriors was that a timeout had already been called from the bench and what would have been a game winning shot was wiped off the books for good.

Sederberg-ones continued to set up the Rochester offense in the overtime period as the Warriors staked out a five point lead over the final minutes of overtime. But that’s when Ritter dropped in her 3-pointer and eventually finagled her way to the free throw line in order to ice the game away for good in the most dramatic of fashion.

Gracie Brammer added 19 points for Hockinson.

The win for the Hawks sets them up for a date with Washougal on Friday. The loss brings the Warriors season to a close with a record of 11-9.

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