Lebanon High completed the comeback. All but the go-ahead basket.
The Warriors erased all but one point of its 13-point deficit against Crater entering Thursday’s final quarter.
But the final two possessions came up empty, and the Comets escaped with a 42-39 win in an OSAA 5A girls basketball quarterfinal at Gill Coliseum.
Second-seeded Lebanon (22-3) had turnovers the last two times it touched the ball, including a pass that was tipped away and stolen in the Warriors’ offensive frontcourt with about five seconds left and seventh seeded Crater (22-4) up one.
Crater’s Sydney Gray made two free throws with two seconds remaining. The Warriors’ inbounds pass was knocked away near midcourt and time ran out.
“We really focused on defense, and it started to fuel our offense and kind of sparked us and helped us get back in it a little bit more,” Lebanon’s Ellie Croco said. “We all knew that we could play better and we weren’t playing very well. We wanted to be able to finish strong.”
Croco had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Megan Miller 10 points for the Warriors, who play Churchill in a consolation semifinal at 10:45 a.m. Friday. The winner plays for fourth place Saturday.
Lebanon is making its first tournament appearance since 2014.
Maya Van Hook had 15 points and six rebounds for Crater, which takes on Midwestern League rival Springfield in an 8:15 p.m. Friday semifinal.
Leading by eight at halftime, the Comets extended their lead to 11 in the opening minutes of the third quarter.
But the Warriors seemed to quickly figure out Crater’s full-court press and was able to work for open shots.
Miller and Mary Workman hit 3-pointer in a 9-2 run that saw Lebanon close within four. Miller’s layin with 2:47 left in the period made it 25-21 Comets.
But Crater found its offense as the Warriors again struggle to execute theirs.
The Comets scored the last eight points of the period — including 3-pointers by Kayana Woodard and Taryn Dance — over the final 81 seconds to lead 35-22 heading into the fourth.
Lebanon used a 9-1 run in the first four minutes of the final period to close within five. Croco, with seven points in the run, got an offensive putback with 4:16 left to make it 36-31 Comets.
Miller’s transition basket off a steal with 3:45 to go cut it to three. Her backcourt steal and layin at the 2:57 mark made it a one-point game.
Crater pushed its lead back to three before Maddy Romeo’s steal and layin with 1:29 left made it one again.
Gray’s two free throws with 1:09 remaining extended the Comets’ lead. Croco was fouled making a layin but couldn’t convert the foul shot.
But the Warriors did get a defensive stop, and Maddy Romeo’s rebound gave her team a chance to take the lead after a timeout with 18.6 seconds left.
But it wasn’t to be.
“Heart,” Lebanon coach Mardy Benedict said of what he saw from his team in the fourth quarter. “These kids are great teammates for each other. They always are battling for each other. If someone is ever not knocking down shots or something, someone is going to pick them up.
“They just kept playing hard. That’s the team I know, and hopefully that’s the team that’s going to show up tomorrow.”
Lebanon spent a majority of the first half trying to take care of the ball with little success. That kept the Warriors from getting many shots, and few good looks.
But Lebanon was defensively strong, keeping the score close while they tried to find way into and around the Crater defenders.
Croco provided the Warriors’ only basket of the first quarter, as her team shot 1 for 9 with six turnovers through the first eight minutes and trailed 7-2.
The Lebanon defense kept the game from getting away from the Warriors.
Morgan Hopkins scored inside to give Lebanon the first points of the second quarter. But Crater got the next five, four from Van Hook.
Croco found Kylie Steiner for a short baseline shot to get the Warriors on the board again, and Paige Wombacher later drove and scored to keep Lebanon within six.
The Comets scored four of the final six points of the half and led 18-10 at the break.
Van Hook, one of Crater’s top players, left the game with an apparent lower leg injury with 1:18 in the half. She returned in the second half.