IRONWOOD - It was a game that seemed destined for overtime after it was tied after one quarter, a one-point game at the half, tied at the end of three quarters and tied through much of the fourth quarter.
In what will be of thought of as one the most exciting games of the year, Ironwood defeated the Bessemer Speedgirls in overtime 48-44 at the John Krznarich Gym on Friday night.
"We knew if we played our best we could beat them," said Ironwood's Jessica Gering, who had a dream night of 24 points and 10 rebounds. "The shots started to fall and we got momentum and just kept going. We were energized and pumped up and everything fell into place. It was scary at the end, but we kept playing good."
The win came 24 hours after the Red Devils had lost to Mercer, a team they had always beaten since becoming a member of the Indianhead Conference.
"We talked about the loss coming off the bus," Ironwood coach Noel Aho said. "We gave up 10 points in the first half and 43 in the second half. The girls knew they would have to play tough defense and try to make up for the Mercer game.
"It was a fun night of basketball. The players, the bench, the fans, everybody did their part. We kept up the intensity for four and a half quarters. The girls were more confident today. It was different. They thought they could win."
The Speedgirls won one of their biggest games in years when they defeated Hurley on Tuesday. It was suggested to Bessemer coach Richard Matrella that perhaps the Speedgirls had an emotional letdown after the big win. But Matrella didn't think so.
"I tried to warn the girls. It's the typical rivalry game with Ironwood," Matrella said. "But give Ironwood the credit. They played well. Nothing came easy. They got back on defense."
It looks like it's going to be a wild and crazy season this year in girls basketball.
With the score tied at 37-37 and 21.1 seconds left in the game, Bessemer's Sarah Trudgeon calmly sank two free throws to give the Speedgirls the lead.
Gering, who moved to point guard for this game, was fouled dribbling with 11.4 seconds left. In the double bonus, Gering made her two free throws to tie the game again.
Trudgeon was fouled with 8.0 seconds on the clock. It was nothing but net for the senior on two free throws and a 41-39 advantage for Bessemer.
Gering was fouled with 3.1 left in the game. Her first free throw rolled on the rim and then fell in. But she missed her second one and the game appeared to be over.
But Ironwood's Rachel Pallin managed to haul down the rebound and was fouled in the process with 0.6 seconds on the clock. Still down 41-40, Pallin's first free throw missed, but the second one was dead on and sent the game into overtime.
Ironwood got the jump on Bessemer in overtime when Gering dribbled around and drilled a 15-foot jump shot. And then freshman Paige Aho hit a shot from out on top that put Ironwood up 45-41 with 2:44 remaining.
Gering and Kacie Lundin sank free throws. Bessemer's Whitney Trcka added two of her own, but it was too little, too late.
"We've been waiting for Jessica to step up," Aho said. "She took control as a senior and did it all tonight."
But Trudgeon (13 points) had a terrific game and Trcka (12 points) also played well for Bessemer.
Pallin also had 16 rebounds for the Red Devils and Paige Aho came out of nowhere to help her team when it needed it the most.
At the game's end, Gering was more than a little excited as were all the Red Devils.
"If we keep playing the way we're playing, I'm excited for the season," she said.
Bessemer won the junior varsity game 34-21.
Bessemer (3-1, 2-1 IC) hosts Watersmeet in Porcupine Mountain Conference action on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The Red Devils (3-1, 3-1 IC) will take on Ewen-Trout Creek in Ironwood on Thursday at 5:45 p.m. CST.
Bessemer - Caitlyn Pelissero 6, Julie Ahnen 1, Sarah Trudgeon 13, Claire Tourville 2, Whitney Trcka 12, Jazzmyn McGeshick 4, Rachel Mazurek 6. FTs: 16-27. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: none. 3-pointers: Trcka 2, Trudgeon 2, Pelissero 2.
Ironwood - Katie Piispanen 2, Jessica Gering 24, Kacie Lundin 5, Rachel Pallin 7, Emily DiGiorgio 3, Paige Aho 7. FTs: 17-29. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: DiGiorgio, Payton Aho. 3-pointers: Gering 1.
Bessemer 11 19 27 41 44
Ironwood 11 20 27 41 48