By CRAIG HALL
WILBURTON—It was a comeback the Howe contingent would have been talking about for a long time.
In the 2A area championship game on Saturday night, Howe came back from an 11-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to force overtime and actually take its first lead early in overtime on a pair of free throws by Braden Dorsey.
But that is when Preston’s Ki-Essense Shields simply took over the game. Shields scored 15 of the Lady Pirates’ 17 points in overtime, drew the fifth foul on Dorsey and LuAnn Davis, and lifted Preston to a 54-41 win over the Lady Lions to advance to the state tournament.
Third-ranked Preston, now 24-5, moves on to the state tournament. Howe 26-2 and sixth, will play Quinton at 6:30 p.m. on Monday with the winner advancing to the state tournament.
Shields finished with 35 points, with the 15 in overtime. She scored Preston’s first 15 points in the overtime session, including putting two of Howe’s better players on the bench with their fifth foul.
Another Howe starter, Jentry Brown, also fouled out in overtime.
Kerstein Hall of Howe had tied the game with 11.6 seconds in regulation with a pair of free throws and Dorsey put the Lady Lions ahead early in the extra session.
Howe got back in the game in the fourth quarter as Morgan Hillebrand hit two 3’s and Preston struggled badly at the free throw line. Hillebrand’s second 3 of the quarter with 1:44 left pulled the Lady Lions to within 35-31 and Dorsey nailed a 3 with 50 seconds left to trim the deficit to 35-34.
Shields answered with a pair of free throws and Hall hit one of two with 32 seconds left to cut the lead to 37-35. Hall was then clutch to tie the game and bring on an extra period.
Dorsey finished with 16 points to lead Howe. The Lady Lions defeated Quinton in Howe on Feb. 13, 53-42. The Lady Savages are 23-4 and ranked ninth.
2A area championship
Preston 54, Howe 41
Howe 8 7 5 17 4—41
Preston 10 8 12 7 17—54
Howe—Braden Dorsey 16, Morgan Hillebrand 9, Kerstein Hall 7, Taya Kellogg 6, Jentry Brown 2, Kealy Brandin 1,
Preston—Ki-Essence Shields 35, Madison McFolks 5, Audriana Fonteno 5, Pramahina Shields 4,Samantha Hack 3, Libby Powell 2.