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‘How’ did they do that?: Lady Zs overcome 3-point first half, beat Culver Academy in OT

Howdeshell scores 18 as Rochester overcomes 9-point deficit


Sports Editor, RTC

The Rochester girls basketball team scored three points in the first half against visiting Culver Academy at the RHS gym Wednesday.

This was not the senior night they had planned. All the games they had won on this court, and they scored three points in the first half.


Six Rochester girls basketball players and team manager Delaney Barkman were recognized prior to a 28-25 win in overtime over Culver Academy Wednesday. From left – Sydney Haughs, Barkman, Emma Howdeshell, Elizabeth Weaver, Rily Holloway, Maddie Heinzmann, Kallie Watson.

But from small things, big things in one half come, and then Emma Howdeshell turned senior night into Emma Howdeshell Night as the Lady Zs earned their biggest comeback win of the season.

Howdeshell scored a game-high 18 points, including six of her team’s eight points in the overtime, to help Rochester beat the sectional rival Lady Eagles 28-25.

Dionna Craig scored 10 points for Culver Academy.

Rochester improved to 10-11. Culver Academy, who came in on a three-game winning streak, fell to 13-7. The teams could meet again in Class 3A, Sectional 18, which Bremen will host from Jan. 31-Feb. 4.

Rylee Clevenger and Kallie Watson each hit a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter as part of a 10-0 run that gave Rochester a 20-19 lead. Rily Holloway and Ella McCarter had two points each. Rochester’s eight points in the overtime came on free throws, including two from McCarter with 2:00 left.

“Three points at halftime … I learn something new every day, and I learned something new in there at halftime,” Rochester coach Joel Burrus said. “I was ready to … beat my head up on a wall. You know, three points, we can only go up from here.”

Howdeshell’s two free throws gave Rochester the lead for good at 25-23 with 55.2 seconds left.

Culver Academy set up a play for Craig from the high post. She missed a short jumper, and Culver Academy post player Lena Spiller tipped the rebound out of bounds.

Craig fouled Howdeshell with 23.6 seconds left, and Howdeshell hit two more free throws to give Rochester their biggest lead at four.

Spiller scored on a putback with 7.3 seconds left, and Culver Academy coach Bill Murchie called his team’s final timeout.

They set up a press, but McCarter inbounded to Holloway in the left corner,who turned and looked ahead to Howdeshell and found her with a pass. Craig fouled Howdeshell with 2.1 seconds left.

Howdeshell missed the first free throw but made the second, and Craig’s halfcourt shot at the buzzer was wide left.

Rochester was 5 for 11 from the foul line in regulation but 8 for 10 in the overtime. Howdeshell was 11 for 15.

“It’s everything,” Howdeshell said of the win. “It was a really good team win, and I feel like everybody had their part and did their part, and I’m proud of everybody.”

Watson said the team had its skeptics, who were used as motivation.

“It just means a lot,” Watson said. “Everybody was doubting us this season, especially with a bunch of people that moved schools. I mean, we just had a lot of doubt creeping in on us this season by the fans. There were just so many people that thought we couldn’t do what we did this season. It’s really big that we were able to come out and pull out this win and show them and prove them wrong, and it just means so much as seniors for all the hard work that we’ve put in the last four years.”

The rally from nine points down started with Clevenger’s 23-footer with 4:55 left off a Holloway assist. Watson’s 3 came from a kickout pass from Sydney Haughs from the high post. It was 19-16 with 3:09 left.

An offensive foul on Culver Academy’s Valencia Miller with 2:16 left gave Rochester the ball back, and Howdeshell turned the corner on a drive for a layup to make it 19-18.

“You started to see us in our triangle start to get the twist going, and we snapped one down low to McCarter there late, but Emma was starting to get downhill off that, and when she gets downhill off that, usually we start getting fouled because they’ve got to start doing something to keep us from getting into the lane,” Burrus said.

Rochester got into their fullcourt press, and Howdeshell picked off Brighton Bird’s pass intended for Piper Brumm at halfcourt and weaved off the dribble into the frontcourt. She missed a layup try, but Reid Seddelmeyer fouled her, and Howdeshell made two free throws to give Rochester their first lead of the half.

Haughs and Howdeshell bothered Bird’s post entry pass on the ensuing possession, and Seddelmeyer fouled Howdeshell again on a drive with 1:22 left, but Howdeshell missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Craig missed a leaner but forced a held ball vying for the rebound with Howdeshell.

Culver Academy called timeout, and Craig split a pair from the line with 51.1 seconds left.

Rochester worked the clock down, and Howdeshell drove and kicked to Holloway for a potential game-winner from 15 feet from the left baseline.

With the 5-9 Bird flying in her face, Holloway’s shot was short, and the game was headed for overtime.

Culver Academy outscored Rochester 10-0 in the second quarter to take a 12-3 halftime lead.

Howdeshell hit a 3 on Rochester’s first possession of the second half, but that was the Lady Zs’ only field goal of the third quarter, and they still trailed 17-8 going into the fourth.

Howdeshell said the gym was “super loud” and that she likes it loud.

“We had a lot of motivation going into the second half because when you’re down like that, you don’t want to lose on senior night,” Howdeshell said. “So we picked it up, and I’m proud of everyone.”

Even though this was not the final home game of the season, it was determined to be senior night because this was the night in which the senior parents would be most available.

Five seniors – Howdeshell, Watson, Haughs, Holloway and Maddie Heinzmann – and a sixth senior, Elizabeth Weaver, was first off the bench. Senior manager Delaney Barkman was also recognized.

Former Rochester players Kennedy Jackson and Millie Scorsone and former coach Brian Jennings were among the attendees.

Watson reflected emotionally on the late Don King, her eighth grade coach at Rochester Middle School. King died on Nov. 17, 2020, at age 66.

“He’s the one who showed me the love of basketball,” Watson said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without him. When I was in middle school, I just wanted to give up so easily. Nothing came to me. I put in all the work, and just nothing was just right for me, but he kept telling me to put in the work, and I wouldn’t be where I am without him.”

It was also Breast Cancer Awareness Night, and attendees were encouraged to wear pink.

Rochester 28, Culver Academy 25 (OT)

CULVER ACADEMY (25) (13-7)

Valencia Miller 3 1-2 7, Dionna Craig 3 4-6 10, Brighton Bird 0 0-0 0, Reid Seddelmeyer 0 0-0 0, Lena Spiller 2 2-3 6, Amelia Binkley 0 0-0 0, Jenavieve Kerr 1 0-0 2, Piper Brumm 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 9 7-11 25

ROCHESTER (28) (10-11)

Rily Holloway 1 0-0 2, Kallie Watson 1 0-0 3, Maddie Heinzmann 0 0-0 0, Emma Howdeshell 3 11-15 18, Sydney Haughs 0 0-4 0, Rylee Clevenger 1 0-0 3, Ella McCarter 0 2-2 2, Elizabeth Weaver 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 6 13-21 28

Three-point field goals:

Culver Academy 0,

Rochester 3 (Howdeshell, Clevenger, Watson)

Total fouls: Culver Academy 17, Rochester 8

Turnovers: Culver Academy 20, Rochester 13

Score by quarters

Culver Academy 2 10 5 3 5 – 25

Rochester 3 0 5 12 8 – 28

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