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MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls High School girls basketball team’s playoff hopes had four seconds remaining against Cedar Park on Jan. 25. But a buzzer-beater at the end of regulation, timely free throws and defensive stops in overtime propelled the Lady Mustangs to a 57-55 victory.

PHOTO 1: Marble Falls High School senior guard Katy Bartels looks for a lane to the basket in the Lady Mustangs’ 57-55 overtime win against Cedar Park on Jan. 25. Photo by Kelly McDuffie

Marble Falls Lady MustangsPHOTO 2: Marble Falls High School junior post Teagan Hall (left, in white) and younger sister, Reann Hall (right), a freshman post, battle for a rebound against Cedar Park on Jan. 25. Photo by Kelly McDuffie

PHOTO 3: Marble Falls High School junior guard Sarah Stripling (left) dribbles into the heart of the Cedar Park defense Jan. 25. Photo by Kelly McDuffie

The Lady Wolves led 47-44 after hitting two free throws. But Marble Falls junior guard Sarah Stripling, who was left unguarded, dribbled to the top of the key and shot the ball. The horn sounded as the ball left her hand and hit nothing but net to put a dagger in Cedar Park’s heart.

“It was just like everybody got out of the way,” Lady Mustangs head coach Chris Jost said. “Her confidence just came rushing back.”

Marble Falls Lady Mustangs“She kind of jumped and left me wide open,” Stripling said. “My dad (Kyle Stripling) has been telling me all week, ‘Make sure you see the basket before you shoot it.’ I got a clean look, and it went in.”

Stripling had a chance to give the Lady Mustangs the lead with about six seconds left in regulation but missed a basket in the lane.

“I knew we were going to have another shot,” she said. “And I knew it was still coming to me.”

“She struggled to find openings, find an open shot,” Jost said. “And she was struggling tonight. And we just hung on, hung on, and she hit the big shot and just took over.”

The Lady Mustangs recorded 18 steals, but suffered nine turnovers, and outrebounded Cedar Park 20-15.

The Lady Wolves led after each quarter and had a 39-33 advantage heading into the final period. But Marble Falls freshman post Reann Hall took over in the fourth, scoring seven points and leading an 11-2 run for the Lady Mustangs to start the quarter. In addition, she and senior post Hayley Fishbeck had some key deflections and steals from the full-court defense.

“Reann played very well,” Stripling said. “She brought us back. She did it right at the end of regulation. So that was nice.”

“She hit some big shots, and when she missed a couple,” Jost said, “she didn’t get her head down. She came back with confidence and hit ones after that.”

Marble Falls junior guard Blanca Fonseca, senior guard Katy Bartels, Fishbeck and Stripling scored free throws in overtime. Stripling nailed a 3-pointer to give the Lady Mustangs a 50-49 lead that they didn’t relinquish.

“That’s what it takes,” Jost said. “It’s not a one-man show. Sarah has gotten so much defensive attention in district, and she struggled to find openings, find an open shot.”

[tabs style=”default”] [tab title=”GAME STATS”]

TOP PLAYERS: Sarah Stripling 23 points (21 in the second half and overtime, 11-of-15 from the foul line), 1 assist, 1 rebound, 2 steals; Reann Hall 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist

ON OFFENSE: Points – Hayley Fishbeck 7, Kaitlyn Naumann 6, Blanca Fonseca 3, Emily Klingsporn 3, Katy Bartels 1, Hannah Wall 1; assists – Naumann 2, Bartels 2, Fonseca 1; rebounds – Fishbeck 2, Bartels 2, Fonseca 1, Klingsporn 1, Wall 1

ON DEFENSE: Steals – Fonseca 10, Bartels 2, Klingsporn 1; rebounds – Fishbeck 4, Teagan Hall 1, Bartels 1, Wall 1, Klingsporn 1, Naumann 1

RECORDS: Marble Falls is 19-11 overall and 5-4 in District 25-4A; Cedar Park is 4-6 in district.

UP NEXT: Marble Falls at Leander Rouse, 1501 CR 271 in Leander, 7 p.m. Jan. 29

[/tab] [tab title=”DISTRICT STANDINGS”]

Cedar Park Vista Ridge, 9-0

Leander, 7-2

Marble Falls, 5-4

Leander Rouse, 5-5

Cedar Park, 4-6

Leander Vandegrift, 2-7

Dripping Springs, 1-9

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