MIDDLETOWN — Rachel Krathwohl’s 20th rebound Friday night proved to be the dagger.
With 19.9 seconds remaining in a Class 2A sectional semifinal, the Shenandoah center came down with the rebound after an errant jumper by Macee Rudy. She immediately went back up with the basketball, scoring and drawing a foul in the process.
The ensuing free throw gave Shenandoah a five-point lead, and the Raiders held on to upset ninth-ranked Lapel 53-50.
“Anything I can do that helps my team, I’ll do,” said Krathwohl, who also scored a game-high 23 points. “But we have a lot of contributors, and we all play together.”
Indeed, Shenandoah (15-4) got production from all over the floor in avenging a 60-42 loss at Lapel (17-5) on Jan. 18.
Rudy, a freshman point guard, finished with 15 points and went 4-for-4 at the free-throw line in the final quarter. Her pair of charity shots with 8.3 seconds remaining slammed the door shut on the Bulldogs’ late rally.
The Raiders also got big 3-pointers in the second half from Abby Roeder and Micah Kimball to maintain control of a game that was tight throughout.
“We were finally able to string four quarters together,” Shenandoah coach Chelsea Kilian said. “We hadn’t done that all season.”
Like many teams, the Raiders struggled to get consistent practice time as weather wreaked havoc on area school schedules. But Mother Nature relented somewhat in recent weeks, and the additional court time was crucial for a team that starts two freshmen and has no seniors on the roster.
Shenandoah took charge with a 9-1 run at the end of the second quarter that sent it into the locker room with a 24-19 halftime lead.
But Lapel answered with a defensive flurry to start the second half. The Bulldogs allowed just four points over the first 7:50 and led 31-28 before Roeder’s 3-pointer tied the game entering the final period.
Shenandoah started fast in the fourth quarter, capping an 8-1 run with a 3-pointer by Kimball that made it 39-32 with 5:23 to play.
“Our girls really executed our game plan,” Kilian said. “Our goal was to make (Mackenzie) Boles beat us from the outside. She knocked down a couple of 3s, but I think we did a good job of taking away some secondary options.”
Boles was 3-for-5 from 3-point range, but the Bulldogs struggled to get anything going in the paint until the second half. Point guard Kirsten Rich eventually found success driving into the lane and scored all of her team-high 15 points in the final 16 minutes.
But Lapel clawed back into the game with the help of another guard, Natalia Campbell. Her steal off an overthrown inbounds pass resulted in a layup to cut the deficit to 41-39 with 2:34 remaining, and a 3-pointer with 1:39 left muted a quick Raiders rally and pulled the Bulldogs within 44-42.
Campbell finished with 11 points, matching Boles’ total.
Krathwohl turned the game. She scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, routinely coming up with baskets in critical situations.
She and Rich traded buckets until the 33-second mark, leaving Shenandoah clinging to a 48-46 lead.
The Raiders broke Lapel’s press, and Rudy had an open look from the wing on the decisive possession. But her shot sailed wide. Krathwohl pulled down the rebound and was fouled by Rich going back up for the basket.
Rich fouled out on the play, and Krathwohl added the free throw to put the Raiders ahead 51-46. Kaitlin Dobbins hit a pair of free throws to keep hope alive for the Bulldogs, but Rudy put the game away with a pair of clutch charity shots of her own at the other end.
Shenandoah will play for its first sectional championship since 2008 tonight at 7:30.
“The girls wanted this game,” Kilian said. “But we want them to stay hungry. We’ve got one more to get.”