The top-seeded Goessel girls’ bid for a ticket to the state tournament fell just short in a 42-39 loss to No. 2 Rural Vista Saturday on the Bluebirds’ home court.
The Bluebirds hosted a Class 1A, Division I sub-state tournament and had received a first-round bye, then defeated Little River in the semifinals to advance to the title game.
Goessel overcame a slow start but rallied to take the lead by halftime. However, Bluebird turnovers and missed opportunities down the stretch allowed the Heat to claim the victory.
Eden Hiebert scored Goessel’s first two points at the charity stripe, but the Bluebirds made just two of nine attempts from the field in the first quarter. Rural Vista scored the quarter’s final five points to lead, 13-6, at the first break.
The Heat cooled in the second quarter. After making a three-pointer one minute in, Rural Vista missed its next six attempts, adding only two free-throws the duration of the half and committing six turnovers.
Goessel, meanwhile, outscored the Heat 15-2 in the final 5:06. Eden Hiebert scored seven of her team-high 13 points in the quarter to lead the charge. By halftime, the Bluebirds had taken the lead, 21-18.
The teams played evenly through the third quarter. The Heat made their first field goal in more than nine minutes at the 5:45 mark, but Goessel maintained the lead, building it to 30-24 after Abby Hannon drained a three-pointer and Kara Burkholder followed with a two-pointer with 1:21 left in the period. A Heat trey closed the gap to 30-27 at the final break.
Things took a turn for the worse to start the fourth quarter. Goessel turned the ball over five times in the first three minutes and missed its first five attempts from the field, allowing Rural Vista to use a 7-0 run to take the lead, 34-30.
Brittney Hiebert scored the Bluebirds’ first point at the charity stripe at the 3:26 mark, then Olivia Duerksen scored to bring Goessel within one, 34-33. Rural Vista made its final field goal with 2:11 to play, then made six of nine free-throws in the final 1:36.
The Heat built a five-point lead, then Hannon made two of three free-throws to trim the margin to 40-37. Following a Heat free-throw, Burkholder scored to bring Goessel within 41-39 with 15 seconds to play. Rural Vista made one of its final two free-throw attempts, and a Goessel three-point attempt at the buzzer missed its mark.
Goessel concludes the season with an overall record of 19-4.