GWINN - What's the best way to get ready for the postseason tournament? Play a postseason type of game.
The Westwood and Gwinn girls basketball teams followed that plan to a T as the Patriots' Elizabeth Dauphinais-VanBuren made a shot that just beat the buzzer for a 39-37 victory on Thursday night.
The teams are getting ready for next week's MHSAA Class C district tournament to be played in Negaunee. Each is an upset away from meeting again in the tourney title game to be played next Friday.
But first, they had a regular-season game to determine.
With the score tied and possession changing hands several times in the final 10 seconds, Westwood had the ball near half-court with 2.7 seconds left.
The Patriots quickly put up a shot just a few steps inside the half-court line that hit nothing except VanBuren's hands as she rushed in to scoop up the ball, put in a reverse layup over her head and end the game as the buzzer sounded.
"Everybody was just watching, which is natural with a half-court shot at the end," Gwinn head coach Ben Olsen said. "But Elizabeth just streaked in, got the ball and came underneath to make that basket."
Westwood coach Kurt Corcoran wasn't surprised.
"She is one of the most explosive players around," he said about his 5-foot-3 junior guard. "You never know where's she going to go be."
With both teams now 7-12 overall, the Patriots moved to 6-5 in the Mid-Peninsula Conference while the Modeltowners slipped to 5-6.
Gwinn led 37-32 when Pats' sophomore Katie Rankinen sank both ends of a one-and-one free throw situation with 1:15 to go.
Sophomore teammate Gabrielle Hebert then swished a 3-pointer about 30 seconds later to tie it 37-37.
VanBuren finished with 12 points, while senior teammate Alexis Forchini had seven rebounds.
For Gwinn, senior Morgan Bruce scored 14 points and pulled in seven rebounds. Fellow senior Lydia Asplund made six steals and dished out five assists.
Westwood also won the JV game, 53-43.
Rapid River 24
Outscoring host Rapid River 17-6 in the first quarter, the Mustangs prevailed Thursday in a Central U.P. League contest.
"We made some shots and played really good defense (that quarter)," Mustangs' head coach Matt Mattson said. "They only scored six points and they were all at the free throw line.
"We held them to single digits every quarter, so our overall team defense was very good."
Jennie Hach led Munising (10-10, 5-7 CUP) with 10 points.
Teammate Sheena Sowa added nine points and a team-best nine rebounds.
For Rapid River (0-19, 0-14), Rikki Stropich notched nine points and six boards.
Munising took the JV game, 39-26.
Superior Central 72,
At Eben, the Cougars ended their perfect 20-0 regular season in style by racing to a 40-12 halftime lead.
Junior Vanessa Freberg matched the point total of Engadine (1-14) all by herself with 19 points to go with eight rebounds. Junior teammates Teslyn Tyner and Mikayla Barrows added 10 points each, while senior Kelsey Coleman had eight points and six assists.
Engadine was paced by Brittany Flatt with eight points.
The Eagles won the JV game, 36-32.