The fourth quarter belonged to Crocker in a first round game of the Osage Tournament Wednesday night.
No. 4 seed Linn managed to hang around for the first 24 minutes, trailing 32-29 going into the final frame, but the No. 5 Lions erased any doubt and outscored the Wildcats 18-8 over the final eight minutes for a 50-37 win to advance to the semifinals.
Solid defense and taking care of the basketball on the offensive end proved to be the difference.
“We eliminated those (turnovers) in the second half and just took care of the ball. Kaitlyn Gambill had a good game for us with 19 points and we got the ball inside to Macey Connell. That is huge for us and if we want to be successful, we have to get her the ball because she does good things with it,” Crocker Coach Mike Austin stated.
“I think our defense played a lot better in the second half. We limited them to maybe one shot each trip, did not give them any second chance points and we just dictated the temp of the game. I think it really helped us a whole lot in the second half.”
Crocker had built up several sizable leads throughout the night with an 8-point lead in the first quarter and a 7-point lead in the third, but Linn managed to find a way to come back each time. They were unable to do so one more time and Austin said nothing but a full and complete effort against No. 1 Osage, the state-ranked Class 4 No. 9 team will be required Thursday night.
“We are going to have to play extremely well tomorrow against Osage,” Austin said. “We are going to have to bring our ‘A-Game’ and we know that. We are just going to play hard and take our chances.”
A win would send Crocker to the championship on Saturday at 4 p.m., against Richland or Dixon. Should Crocker lose, the Lions will play for third place on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.