One Crawford County team was going to extend their season for another day, while another was going to see their season come to an end Monday.
County rivals Palestine-Hutsonville and Oblong hooked up for the third time this season in the opening round of the Class 1A Neoga Regional and the final result was the same as the previous two meetings - barely.
The fourth-seeded Lady Pioneers nearly blew an eight-point fourth quarter lead, but held on in the end to edge the fifth-seeded Lady Panthers, 41-40.
"We knew Oblong was going to be ready to play with it being a regional game, but just like we have several times in the second half of the season, we found a way to win," PHS-HHS head coach Travis Blank said.
Oblong led only once in the game, at 2-0 on a basket by Emily Lockhart, but the lead was quickly erased by a three-pointer from Nicole Kiger, which started a 10-0 run by Palestine-Hutsonville to make the score 10-2. Lockhart would score again to end the run and close the gap to 10-4 at the end of the first quarter.
Two baskets by Calee Fulling early in the second quarter pushed the Palestine-Hutsonville lead to 14-4 and the Lady Pioneers took their biggest lead of the game at 20-9 a few minutes later, before Oblong scored six of the final nine points of the period to close the gap to 23-15 at halftime.
The Lady Panthers carried their momentum over to the third quarter, as two baskets by Lockhart pulled OHS to within 23-19. After the teams traded baskets to make the score 25-21, Palestine-Hutsonville put together a 7-0 run to take a 32-21 lead. Emily Nehls started the run with a three-point play, then Kiley Rariden made two free throws and a field goal to push the lead back to 11. Kelsie Harper ended the run with a three-pointer near the end of the period to pull Oblong to within 32-24 heading into the final period.
A pair of free throws by Harper closed the gap to 32-26, then after neither team scored for a few minutes, Harper knocked down another three-pointer to trim the margin to 32-29. Rariden countered with a basket for the Lady Pioneers, but Lockhart followed with two straight hoops for the Lady Panthers to make the score 34-33. A free throw by Fulling pushed the lead to 35-33, then a basket by Fulling gave the Lady Pioneers a 37-33 advantage. The teams then traded baskets before another three-pointer from Harper pulled Oblong to within 39-38 with about three minutes remaining. Kiger would hit a free throw with a minute remaining to give Palestine-Hutsonville a 40-38 lead, but Lockhart tied the game, 40-40, with two free throws with 35 seconds on the clock.
Palestine-Hutsonville worked for a final shot and called time-out with eight seconds left to set up a final play. McKenna Elder got off a shot for the Lady Pioneers, but missed. However, Fulling snared the rebound and was fouled with three seconds left. Fulling would hit the first free throw, then missed the second, but Nehls was able to grab the rebound and run out the rest of the clock to secure the victory for the Lady Pioneers.
Oblong outshot Palestine-Hutsonville from the field in the game, but the Lady Pioneers doubled up the Lady Panthers at the free throw line, enabling them to pull out the win.
The Lady Panthers made 16-39 field goal attempts (41 percent), while Palestine-Hutsonville was just 16-53 from the floor (30 percent). Oblong made four three-pointers in the game to one for Palestine-Hutsonville, but the Lady Pioneers were 8-20 at the free throw line (40 percent), while the Lady Panthers made just 4-10 foul shots (40 percent).
Fulling led Palestine-Hutsonville with 14 points, eight rebounds, eight steals, two assists and one blocked shot, while Emily Nehls posted nine points, two steals and one rebound. Nicole Kiger netted eight points, five rebounds and one steal, Kiley Rariden contributed six points, five rebounds and two steals and Leslie Churchwell added four points and two rebounds.
Lockhart led Oblong with 18 points, four rebounds and one steal, while Kelsie Harper posted 18 points and two rebounds and Kira Meese added four points and one rebound.
Palestine-Hutsonville (14-13) advances to play top-seeded Dieterich in the semifinals Wednesday at 6 p.m., followed by second-seeded Effingham St. Anthony and third-seeded Neoga in the other semifinal at 7:30.
"If we play for four quarters, shoot the ball better and make our free throws, we should have a chance," Blank said.
Oblong ended their season with a 4-20 record.
OHS head coach Tim Johnson was unable to be reached for comment by press time.