MONTICELLO — Brooke Stahlberg limped out of the locker room and settled into a small red chair with wheels.
A throne would have been more fitting.
Stahlberg scored 21 of her game-high 26 points after halftime, including a 3-point dagger late in the second overtime as Class 2A 11th-ranked Monticello outlasted No. 3 Maquoketa Valley, 54-51, in a Tri-Rivers Conference girls’ basketball showdown that more than lived up to its billing Friday night at Monticello High School.
“It’s amazing,” Stahlberg said as she applied ice to a calf cramp that she suffered at the end of the game. “Coach (Donnie Kremer) said everybody he talked to, told him we wouldn’t be able to beat them.”
The Panthers (11-0 overall, 8-0 Tri-Rivers) moved into sole possession of the league lead. Monticello has never captured a conference championship in girls’ basketball, whether in the present Tri-Rivers, its old days in the Big Bend Conference or its older days in the Wamac.
Now, it’s in the driver’s seat.
“This ranks up there with the two (regional) wins over Cascade (which vaulted Monticello to state in 2007 and 2008),” Kremer said. “Probably the biggest regular-season win we’ve had here.”
The Panthers were nursing a 49-48 lead in the final half-minute of the second extra session. Conventional wisdom would dictate ball security.
Instead, Stahlberg let it fly.
“I knew if I didn’t make it, I’d get yelled at,” she said.
There was no scolding. Just a swish.
“I’m used to it,” Kremer laughed. “These kids do that to me all the time.”
Becca Dirks scored five of her seven points in the second overtime, including a putback with 1:10 left that put the Panthers ahead to stay, 49-48.
She added a tack-on basket as the buzzer sounded for the final three-point margin.
Sammie Salow scored 19 points and Abbie Wooten registered 17 points and 10 rebounds for Maquoketa Valley (11-1, 7-1). Salow’s baseline drive tied the game with 22 seconds left in the first overtime and extended the game four more minutes.
“I’m proud of my kids,” said Wildcats Coach Scot Moenck. “They battled. They went through adversity and they battled. We grew up tonight.”
Maquoketa Valley broke to a 9-0 lead through the first four minutes before Monticello got untracked, and neither team led by more than five points through the rest of the game. Stahlberg scored the first five points of the first overtime before the Wildcats pushed back.
Stahlberg, a junior, was 5-for-8 from long range.
The Wildcats led, 35-34, and had possession of the ball late in regulation. But the ball got loose, Monticello’s Sydney Herman grabbed possession and was fouled by Salow.
Herman made both free throws to put the Panthers up a point with 6 seconds left, then Maquoketa Valley’s Emily Peters made the first of two foul shots — her only point of the game — to knot it, 36-36.
The rematch is Feb. 4 at Delhi.
MAQUOKETA VALLEY (51): Blake Funke 0-1 4-4 4, Sammie Salow 7-12 2-3 19, Emily Peters 0-1 1-2 1, Abbie Wooten 5-12 7-9 17, Nicole Kudrna 2-4 0-0 4, Hannah Huber 1-2 0-0 2, Heidi Hoeger 2-4 0-1 4. Totals 17-36 14-19 51.
MONTICELLO (54): Brooke Stahlberg 7-12 7-11 26, Jordan Aitchison 1-5 4-8 7, Taylor Aitchison 1-1 0-0 2, Sydney Herman 1-3 2-4 4, Kelsie Etten 2-4 2-3 6, Becca Dirks 3-5 1-2 7, Tracy Hermsen 0-6 1-2 1, Ashley Kremer 0-1 1-2 1, Heidi Wolf 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-37 18-32 54.
Halftime: Maquoketa Valley 19, Monticello 18. End of regulation: 36-36. End of first OT: 44-44. 3-point goals: Maquoketa Valley 3-9 (Salow 3-6, Peters 0-1, Wooten 0-1, Kudrna 0-1), Monticello 6-12 (Stahlberg 5-8, J.Aitchison 1-3, Kremer 0-1). Team fouls: Maquoketa Valley 27, Monticello 22. Fouled out: Wooten, Huber, Herman, Etten. Rebounds: Maquoketa Valley 22 (Wooten 10), Monticello 30 (Dirks 6). Assists: Maquoketa Valley 7 (Wooten 3), Monticello 7 (T.Aitchison 4). Steals: Maquoketa Valley 7 (Salow, Peters 2), Monticello 5 (five with 1). Turnovers: Maquoketa Valley 17, Monticello 20.