The 13th time was the charm for the Shorewood girls basketball team, which ended six years of futility against crosstown rival Shorecrest Dec. 13.
Boosted by a tenacious press in the second half, the Thunderbirds held on for a 54-48 win over the Scots in a Western Conference South Division game at Shorecrest High School.
The Scots had won 12 straight over Shorewood, with the T-birds’ last win over the Scots coming on Jan. 26, 2000.
“It’s not really a rivalry until we hold up our end of the bargain,” Shorewood coach Jeff Bernhardt said. “What a game.”
After a steal by Tara Dorrance with 25 seconds to play, Shorewood’s Becky Farden, who scored a team-high 19 points, added four free throws in the final 20 seconds to ice the win and start the celebration.
Shorewood led by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter, but it took awhile to put the Scots (0-2 Wesco South, 0-4 overall) away.
Shorecrest nabbed a 30-26 lead in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Jocelyn Riordan, its largest lead of the game. After Dorrance scored, the T-birds’ press forced the Scots to make four bad passes in a row, which turned the tide of the game.
“It’s started working for us, especially on the team we wanted to beat the most in this league which is Shorecrest,” Shorewood senior forward Jane Fleck said of the backcourt pressure.
A steal and layup by Fleck (16 points) evened the score before Farden scored four straight points off steals to cap an 8-0 run. Riordan, who scored a game-high 20 points, stopped the bleeding with a drive to the hoop that resulted in a three-point play and the quarter ended with Shorewood up 34-33.
The T-birds went back to their press and started the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run with Fleck scoring six straight points to put them up 42-33 with 5:04 to go.
Shorecrest coach Jon Rasmussen called timeout and the Scots regrouped to go on a 9-0 run of their own, capped by a basket by Bailey Osborn assisted by Molly Gibson. Bernhardt warned his team that Shorecrest would make a run, but unlike last year when Shorewood’s lost by two points to the Scots, they did not fold down the stretch.
Fleck knocked down a shot and Tiffanie Bronson made two layups in a row and with 2:42 to play, Shorewood had a seven-point lead, which withstood Shorecrest’s final push.
Shorewood senior point guard Rachel Eckerlin, a four-year starter, couldn’t stop smiling after beating the Scots for the first time.
“This will definitely help us get through the tougher games this season,” she said.
The T-birds received plenty of help from their bench, especially Bronson, who came up with several steals and scored nine points.
“She was really tenacious on defense,” Eckerlin said. “She sparked our offense and got us going.”
Meanwhile winless Shorecrest, which came into the season believing it could make the state playoffs for the first time in school history, lost its fourth straight game by six points or less.
“Our problem right now is we’re making a lot of mental mistakes,” Rasmussen said. “We’re not making sharp passes, we’re not executing.”