The Vikings didn’t exactly make the most of their many free-throw opportunities, but they knocked down just enough when it mattered most to turn the tables on the Wolverines and waltz out of Friday Harbor with a 35-31 come-from-behind win, Friday, in Turnbull Gym.
Trailing by five with four minutes left in regulation, junior Bella Nigretto sank one-of-two free-throw attempts and then drained a 3-pointer with just over two minutes to play to bring the Vikings (4-3) within a point, at 31-30. Senior Lana Bronn hit a pair of free throws 60 seconds later to give Orcas a 1-point advantage and, ultimately, the victory.
The Wolverines, down 21-17 at the half, tallied the first 10 points of the third period and outscored Orcas 12-4 after the break to claim a 29-21 lead going into the final eight minutes of the game. But they scored just two points in the final period.
“That’s been our ‘M.O.’ all season,” head coach Greg Sasan said of the Vikings third-quarter futility. “Sometimes I wish we didn’t have a halftime. I’m not sure which team is going to come back out on the floor. But we recovered, and the girls really hung in there and fought back.”
Nigretto tossed in a game-high 16 points, including 8-of-14 from the free-throw line. Orcas shot 54 percent from the charity stripe, hitting on 15- of-28 attempts; Friday Harbor had three free-throw attempts for the entire game.
Senior Jean Melborne scored 13 points to lead the Wolverines (4-10) and junior Tabatha Keane had 10 before going to the bench with her fifth foul with six minutes left in regulation.
Coming off their biggest victory of the season, a 40-33 win at Meridian, in which they clinched a post-season bid, the Wolverines took the loss in stride.
“They really kicked our butts when we played over there earlier,” Melborne said of a 44-25 loss at Orcas in the second game of the season. “Seeing how much they celebrated, we know that they have respect for us.”
Friday Harbor faces Northwest 1A/2B League rival Concrete on the road, Thursday, at 5 p.m., and is home to host regional 1A rival Lynden Christian, Saturday; tipoff is noon.
— Scott Rasmussen