CEDAR RAPIDS — It was there for the taking.
A missed free throw. OK, three of them, but who’s counting? And an opportunity for an upset.
It all proved elusive for the Xavier Saints.
Class 4A top-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy grabbed three consecutive offensive rebounds in the final 20 seconds and denied No. 13 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 57-55, in a Mississippi Valley Conference girls’ basketball thriller Friday night at Ron Thillen Gymnasium.
“Any time you beat Xavier, it’s a huge win, especially on their home court,” said Kennedy’s Jade Rogers, who scored 10 of her game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter.
Kennedy (6-0 overall, 5-0 MVC) held a tenuous 54-53 lead when Mariah Duke was fouled with 19 seconds left.
She made the first free throw, missed the second. Haley Brightwell rebounded and was fouled.
“I usually go straight after the rebound, but this time I went around,” Brightwell said.
Brightwell made the first free throw to make it 56-53, missed the second. The carom was tipped around before Kristen Hahn secured it at the top of the key.
She missed two free throws, the loose ball squirted free, and Hahn grabbed it again. She passed to Duke, who was fouled with 11 seconds left.
Duke made one of two free throws to make it 57-53 and wrap it up.
The irony in all this: Xavier (6-3, 3-2) had owned the glass for the first 31 1/2 minutes. The Saints outrebounded Kennedy, 32-21.
“The difference at the end was that we’d lost our post players (Shea Bartz and Kristen Tow fouled out in the final minute),” said Xavier Coach Tom Lilly. “We had to box out with kids that aren’t normally down there.
“It would have been nice to see what we could have done with the opportunity if we’d gotten the ball.”
For the second straight game, Kennedy trailed after three quarters. And for the second straight time, the Cougars escaped. Hahn added 13 points.
Colleen Bouchard paced Xavier with 15 points and five assists. Hannah Breitbach added 14 points.