TOWNSEND — Everybody in the Townsend gym probably expected Three Forks’ Kyle Olson to attempt the game-tying or go-ahead basket in the waning seconds of Saturday’s showdown of undefeated teams from District 5B.
Everybody except Olson, that is.
The junior guard drove baseline, where she ran into a wall of Townsend defenders, and calmly lofted a pass to Heather Wilson at the top of the key. Wilson banked home the 3-pointer — just her second field goal of the game — to give the Wolves a one-point lead with 10.5 seconds left. A few frantic moments later Three Forks was a celebrating a hard-fought 67-64 win on the floor of their conference rival.
“I know we have a lot of good players on our team, and I’m really glad our bench is deep when things happen like that. I knew when I was triple-teamed that Heather could hit it,” said Olson, who finished with 22 points. “She was wide open and she got it done, so I was really happy.”
It might have been Wilson hitting the deciding shot, but the Wolves would’ve been lost withour their star tandem in the backcourt. Olson and Shainy Mack sparked a furious fourth-quarter rally that saw Three Forks overcome a double-digit deficit. Townsend led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter.
But the fourth quarter belonged to the visitors. Three Forks scored 26 points over the final eight minutes, getting eight points each from Olson and Mack. Sydney Lane and Morgan Allen came up big, as well, combining to sink seven of 10 free throw attempts.
“We just had some letdowns, some turnovers (against Three Forks’ press defense). They executed it, and they got it,” said Townsend coach Dan Hazlett. “I love those games way better than 40-point wins, because you really do learn from them. I hope our group on Monday can sit down, assess it and hit the road again.”
Hazlett wasn’t ready to claim a moral victory, but admitted his team could take a lot from Saturday’s game. When Three Forks focused on slowing Townsend’s Tavia Rooney on the interior, the Bulldog guards made big shot after big shot. As a team, Townsend made nine 3-pointers.
Freshman Charlotte Watson hit two big ones during a second-quarter run to put Townsend up six points right before halftime. Catie Watson knocked down three triples in the game, including the go-ahead basket with 32 seconds remaining.
“It’s early in the season, but it’s definitley a huge measuring stick. To have them on the ropes the bulk of the second half is the positive we need to take away from that,” Hazlett said. “They’re a great team, they really are, and I know we’ve been looking forward to this game and it lived up to a lot of expectations. It was fun to play in, and they are — Mack and Olson and Allen are really just solid players. You can’t give them an inch. Boy, it will be fun the next time, too.”
Mack scored a game-high 25 points before fouling out in the final minutes, and Allen added 11.
Lainee Hill led a balanced Townsend attack with 16 points. Charlotte Watson scored 12, Rooney had 10 and Denika Dolan and Catie Watson each had nine.
The teams are set to meet again on Feb. 3.
“We worked really hard in practice the last week, but even coming in we were a little nervous,” Olson said. “We knew they were going to be tough. They’re a good team, but we really stepped up in the end there and got it done.”
The Three Forks boys also won on Saturday, defeating Townsend 79-63.