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Francis Howell Central salvages overtime victory against Webster Groves

Francis Howell Central salvages overtime victory against Webster Groves


COTTLEVILLE — Francis Howell Central's girls basketball team has gotten pretty good at winning close games.

Perhaps that made a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter a precarious situation for the Spartans.

That double-digit lead evaporated, but Howell Central bounced back and held off Webster Groves for a 50-48 overtime victory in a nonconference battle between two of the area's top teams in the rankings.

“I know going into this game, there would be no point where it felt comfortable until the clock hit zeroes,” Spartans coach Hayley Leake said. “Webster is the type of team that can do a variety of things to get the ball back. I knew they were going to make that surge. This is how we learn. I would like us to learn at other times, too, like maybe practice.”

Howell Central (8-2, No. 4 large school) won in overtime for the second time in 12 days and prevailed for the fourth time its last five games by a one-possession margin of victory.

The Spartans have pulled out wins of three, two, one and two points over the last two weeks.

Junior forward Eliza Maupin scored 24 points to lead Webster Groves (9-3, No. 1 large school), which was playing for the first time since Jan. 2 because of a COVID-19 quarantine.

The Statesmen trailed 41-31 with 4 minutes and 39 seconds to play before scoring the final 10 points of regulation, including the tying basket by junior forward Sophia Nittinger with 1:46 left.

“I’m not going to lie, we were all pretty shaken,” Spartans senior forward Sofia Tweedie said.

A Hawaii Pacific signee, Tweedie set the tone in overtime with an early 3-pointer and scored a team-high 19 points.

Spartans senior guard Gracie Stugart, who has signed to play for Truman State, added 15 points. That included four free throws in overtime.

Howell Central outscored Webster Groves 9-7 in the tiebreaking four-minute quarter.

“We came out in overtime and earned a win against a very, very good team,” Stugart said.

Webster Groves also got 11 points from junior guard Ellie Paloucek.

In addition to their long layoff, the Statesmen were playing without injured senior guard Ja'mise Bailey, who averages 8.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

“Having one day of practice before coming to play a good team is real tough,” Statesmen coach Josh Spuhl said.

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