SENECA — What once was lost for the Seneca Lady Irish girls basketball club was later found, and at the most opportune moment

After their shooting touch from the free-throw line deserted them for much of the first three quarters of their Tri-County Conference semifinal against fiesty Roanoke-Benson here Monday night, the Lady Irish finally got it back in the final period. The hosts recovered from a 10-for-24 stretch at the charity stripe during the first 24 minutes of action by connecting on 10 of 16 from there in the fourth quarter, enough to complete a 48-43 victory over the Lady Rockets.

That cold shooting led Seneca (17-6) to a 25-15 halftime deficit, but a seven-point third stanza by Madi Bromberek helped the never-say-die home team back to within one heading to the final eight minutes.

There Brooklyn Giertz drained 6 of 7 from the stripe to wrap up her team-best 13 points, which included a go-ahead three-point play with 4 minutes, 21 seconds left and later, the go-ahead-for-good pair of tosses with 1:40 to go.

The decision sends the Lady Irish into Thursday’s 8 p.m. championship contest against Putnam County, which walloped Midland 47-19 in the night’s first semifinal.

“We were all over the place in the first half,” said Seneca coach Ted O’Boyle, “down 9-0 really quick, and you start to panic and do things you normally don’t do. We were just really, really out of rhythm then ... but the girls battled through it. They were warriors out there tonight.

“We played well in the back half of the third quarter, and we put together a fourth quarter. I told the girls that when you get down 10 points and you battle back to a point or two and you don’t take a lead, then you do that a couple of times, it’s hard to keep coming back, but they fought until we finally got over the hump. When you battle that hard for that long, you just have to get a lead at some point, and we did that.

"I’m proud of the effort tonight.”

Behind 10 of Maddie Monge’s game-best 22 points in the opening quarter, R-B had a 15-10 lead and widened that to 25-15 as the Irish went a chilly 5 for 21 from the field and 5 for 14 from the stripe in the half.

But after a Kuylar Kennell bucket at 5:05 of the third quarter gave the visitors a 29-20 edge, Seneca came alive. Sparked by Bromberek, it closed the period on a 10-2 burst and drew to within 38-37 on a Mara Bruno steal and Giertz putback with 4:36 showing.

A Monge toss took the lead to two, but Giertz notched the hoop-and-harm with 4:21 left to give SHS its first lead. Bailey Leman got it back for the tiring Rockets with a runner in the lane a minute later, but Giertz drilled clutch free throws at 1:40 to regain it for good.

In fact, the Irish posted an 11-3 run that ended with a Monge lay-in with 8.8 seconds remaining.

“We played really well for the first half, did what we wanted defensively,” said R-B coach Todd Nafziger, “but I knew that Seneca would make a run at us in the second half. They’re too good a team, and they have too much depth. … We don’t have any depth at all, and at the end I’m playing two freshmen, a sophomore and a junior compared to the senior leadership Seneca had out on the floor.

"It was a situation where we got tired and we stand around. They just had more depth.”

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At Seneca

Seneca 48, Roanoke-Benson 43

(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA)

ROANOKE-BENSON (43) — Kennell 2-4 0-2 5, Heckman 2-4 0-0 5, Weldon 1-3 0-0 2, Leman 4-14 0-0 9, Monge 9-27 1-6 22, Rients 0-0 0-0 0, Kearfott 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-53 1-8 43.

SENECA (48) — Bromberek 4-10 3-10 11, Draves 1-7 3-4 5, Jashari 3-8 5-6 11, Bruno 2-9 2-8 6, Giertz 3-7 7-11 13, Olson 0-1 0-0 0, Hartwig 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 14-46 20-40 48.

R-B (9-15) 15 10 6 12 — 43

Seneca (17-6) 10 5 15 18 — 48

3-point goals – R-B 6-19 (Monge 3-12, Kennell 1-1, Heckman 1-1, Leman 1-4, Weldon 0-1); Seneca 0-3 (Draves 0-3). Rebounds – R-B 29 (Monge 11); Seneca 49 (Bruno 14, Giertz 10). Turnovers – R-B 21; Seneca 18. Total fouls (fouled out) – R-B 23 (Leman, Heckman); Seneca 14.

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