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Class D final: St. Ignace prevails in OT thriller

David Goricki
The Detroit News
From left, Kate Bentgen, Autumn Orm and Margo Brown hold up St. Ignace's state championship trophy.

East Lansing – Abbey Ostman led St. Ignace back from a 20-point second-half deficit to force overtime, then made sure the Saints would complete the job in a thrilling 64-60 victory over Pittsford in the Class D state championship game Saturday at the Breslin Center.

Ostman, a 5-foot-9 junior, scored 31, including 21 in the second half and overtime, to help St. Ignace (22-5) win its second state title in the last three years while ending Pittsford's dream of an unbeaten season.

The Saints' experience of playing at Breslin in clutch situations played a role in the win. It was Pittsford's first trip to the state finals.

It was the first time a team came back from a 20-point deficit to win the championship since 1987, when Detroit Cass Tech battled back from the same deficit to defeat Saginaw for the Class A title, 52-51.

"They never gave up," said Dorene Ingalls, who guided the Saints to their fifth state title in her 16 years as the Saints' head coach. "I'm so proud of them. Margo (senior point guard Brown) has the biggest heart of any player I've ever coached. She's a very competitive kid, and Abbey Ostman was a beast today."

Ostman and Brown (19 points) combined for 50 points to show why they are St. Ignace's captains, making big shot after big shot during the comeback. Pittsford led the entire game until the Saints forced overtime, then Ostman scored the first four points of the extra session. Brown made a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter to pull the Saints within five, 48-43.

"She (defender) wasn't really on me so I felt I'd just shoot it," said Brown of the 3-pointer. "We really got the momentum going and it kept rolling from there."

Said Ingalls: "When Margo makes that shot, the kids really believe and the other team starts thinking, 'Oh, we're in trouble,' then plays tighter and that makes it tougher for them to execute."

Pittsford (26-1) turned the ball over two straight times in the final minute of overtime. It also had two turnovers and missed two free throws in the final two minutes of regulation, failing to close out the game.

"I don't think we got rattled, we just couldn't make baskets," said Pittsford coach Chris Hodos of his team's 9-of-24 shooting during the second half and overtime (1-of-8 on 3-point attempts). "It's not too often a team comes back from double digits twice during a championship weekend, so hats off to them."

Ostman made 12-of-24 shots from the field, making 3-of-8 three-pointers. She also grabbed 10 rebounds, helping the Saints outrebound Pittsford by a 26-19 margin during the second half, 13-7 on the offensive end.

"I knew my teammates were working hard and I felt I needed to step up and help them," Ostman said.

Brown picked herself off the floor on two occasions after big collisions. It was Brown who made sure the Saints would get in the title game, scoring 20 of her 23 points during the second half to rally them back from a 13-point deficit against Frankfort Thursday night in a semifinal.

Pittsford opened the game with the inside scoring of physical 5-foot-10 sophomore Maddie Clark (12 points, 11 rebounds), then increased the lead with the 3-point shooting of junior Laura Smith (14 points) and sophomore Jaycie Burger (13 points). Madison Dominique scored 12.

Smith made four 3-pointers, three straight long-range shots during a 1:15 stretch to spark an 11-0 run to open up a 15-4 lead midway through the first quarter.

"Number 14 (Smith) started the game on fire," said Ingalls. "We knew 21 (Burger) and 14, they'd make some shots. We doubled a little bit on 21 and made sure someone would stay on 14."

Pittsford used another big run, this one a 14-0 run from the final minutes of the second quarter to the opening two minutes of the third to take its largest lead at 41-21. Burger was the catalyst, making two 3-pointers and scoring a driving layup.

It would be Pittsford's final 3-pointer.

Clark, who had 26 points and 15 rebounds in a semifinal win over Waterford Lakes, fouled out with 1:12 left in overtime and the game tied at 58.

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