WESTFIELD TWP. — Maddie Boltz was talking a billion miles per hour and using body language as much as her mouth to communicate.
Yeah, the senior was a little giddy after her Cloverleaf girls basketball team advanced to the Elyria Division II District semifinals for the second straight season.
Boltz was the main reason the Colts survived Thursday, making both ends of a one-and-one with 8.8 seconds remaining — she deadpanned how that was totally ironic — in a 42-39 victory over sixth-seeded Padua Franciscan that was finally decided when Bruins star Alex Pillin missed a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The third-seeded Colts (13-10) avenged a 42-29 loss to Padua (7-16) on Jan. 7 and advanced to get another shot at revenge, this time against neighboring second seed Buckeye (20-3), in a district semifinal at Elyria on Monday.
“This is so amazing, especially after we lost to them in the regular season,” Boltz said. “Coming into it, we wanted to get revenge and, obviously, we wanted to win sectionals.
“It was crazy. We had (a big) lead and they came back, and we knew we couldn’t let them.”
With its offense struggling and its normally sound defense unorganized, Cloverleaf saw a 14-point lead shrink to one when Bruins center Madison Miles made an off-balance, eight-foot fadeaway in the paint. The Colts tried to get the ball to 85 percent free throw shooter Mckenna Jordan, but solid pressure prevented them from doing so.
Ultimately the ball got to Boltz, a 47 percent foul shooter who walked to the line for the most important one-and-one of her career. The senior methodically went through her routine and both attempts found nothing but net to all but guarantee overtime was the worst-case scenario. It was the first time the Colts made a pair of free throws on a night when they were 11-for-23.
Padua was out of timeouts and failed to set up anything resembling a play before Pillin’s contested 20-footer was well off the mark, touching off a Cloverleaf celebration that featured Boltz jumping up and down and point guard Cam Tripp vaulting directly into the arms of assistant coach Gina Fox.
“That’s crazy, because I’m probably the worst free throw shooter that we have,” said a laughing Boltz, who is actually the third worst among seven rotational players on a team that shoots .547. “I was very nervous, but I think when I’m nervous I shoot them the best because, I don’t know, the adrenaline, I guess.”
Boltz was the hero, as she tied a career high with 19 points. The shooting guard scored all eight Cloverleaf points in the third quarter, and her third 3-pointer of the night — a top-of-the-arc rainbow off an inbounds play — gave the Colts their biggest lead at 31-17.
Tripp finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists while keeping her dribble in hairy situations. Jordan compensated for a season-low three points with 12 rebounds, giving her double digits in 13 of the last 14 games.
The Colts led 16-10 after one quarter and shot 5-for-24 (.208) in the middle quarters, yet stretched their advantage to 31-20 after holding the Bruins to 10 points on 3-for-27 shooting (.111). The concept was a triangle-and-two defense on Pillin and 3-point specialist Caitlyn LaGuardia (0 points, 0-for-1 shooting), as well as a 2-2-1 zone when Pillin was on the bench.
“I really liked the way we came out and established ourselves,” Cloverleaf coach John Carmigiano said. “I believe that our defense was pretty confusing to them, and they weren’t easily figuring it out.”
The cushion proved to be just enough thanks to a 47 percent free throw shooter bucking the trend.
“We haven’t really had a close game like that,” Boltz said. “Well, we’ve had close games, but in the end we lost them. This was one of our close games that we came out on top, so it was amazing to be able to celebrate like that.”
Cloverleaf 42, Padua Franciscan 39
Elyria Division II Sectional Final
PADUA FRANCISCAN 10 3 7 19 — 39
CLOVERLEAF 16 7 8 11 — 42
Padua Franciscan — Addison Conroy 6-4-17, Sarah Pelesky 0-0-0, Madison Miles 4-1-9, Caitlyn LaGuardia 0-0-0, Alex Pillin 3-1-8, Alexis Rau 1-0-2, Anna Doucette 0-0-0, Devan Peterson 0-0-0, Alexa Sotak 1-1-3, Carly Kwiatkowski 0-0-0, Arianna Pomirleanu 0-0-0. TOTALS: 15-7-39.
Cloverleaf — Jenna Oliver 1-1-3, Tori Smith 2-1-5, Mckenna Jordan 1-1-3, Maddie Boltz 7-2-19, Cam Tripp 3-6-12, Sarasa Sivapatham 0-0-0, Bailey Freeland 0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-11-42.
3-point goals — Conroy, Pillin, Boltz 3. Rebounds — Padua Franciscan 36 (Miles 9), Cloverleaf 35 (Jordan 12). Assists — Padua Franciscan 3 (Pelesky 2), Cloverleaf 7 (Tripp 3). Records — Padua Franciscan (7-17), Cloverleaf (13-10).