CLINTON, Wis. - When the ball doesn't find the basket, as it didn't often for Turner and Clinton Friday night, sometimes it just comes down to which team makes the little plays.
On this night, the Trojans dug out two offensive rebounds following missed free throws in the final minute, and forced Clinton to tip it out of bounds on a third.
Olivia Tinder finally closed the door on the Cougars, hitting the back end of a double bonus situation to give Turner a 45-41 lead with eight seconds to play. A last-gasp effort fell short for Clinton, making that the final score as Turner swept the season series.
Turner coach Nick Faralli said there is no such thing as an ugly victory, particularly not when that win comes on the road against a heated rival.
"Give our girls credit," Faralli said. "We showed a lot of grit and determination to just find a way to come through when it mattered. We just survived down the stretch. We really struggled in our last two games, and our goal to night was just find a way to be one point better than them, and we were able to do that."
The Trojans would shoot just 33 percent for the game, but that total was substantially better than Clinton's 25 percent effort. The Trojans held a 17-11 lead at halftime after a brutal offensive showing by both teams in the first half. The action picked up in the second half, starting with a Trojan surge that allowed them to take a 29-16 lead. The Cougars quickly fought back with a 9-0 run to close within 29-25 on a basket by Molly Kemp with 6:55 to play.
"You've got to give Clinton a lot of credit there," Faralli said. "We packed it in all night and made them beat us from the outside, and they hit some really tough jump shots in that stretch to get them right back into the game."
Liz Kalk, who led the Cougars with 15 points, said the stretch saw the team energized.
"We just kind of found our fire finally," Kalk said. "We had a couple of time-outs when we weren't playing well, and in the last one it just kind of clicked that we need to go."
After Turner extended the lead back to eight with 5:15 to go, the Cougars made another charge. Kalk hit a shot with one minute remaining to cut the lead to 40-36.
After a free throw by Ally Bosetti made it 41-36, Kalk drilled a trey while getting fouled and swished the free throw to bring Clinton within a point with 46 seconds to play.
After a Turner miss, Hannah Welte missed a 3-pointer that would've given Clinton its first lead since the score was 7-6 in the game's opening moments. Kalk hit one free throw, but missed her second that would've tied the game.
Though the Trojans struggled to finish from the line, TInder's final shot finally sealed the deal.
"I've kind of struggled at the line at times this year," Tinder said. "So it felt really good for that last one to go down."
Nitz said the game came down to determination.
"The bottom line was this came down to who wanted it more, and we wanted it more than they did," Nitz said. "We just wouldn't let them come all the way back."
• NOTES: The Trojans host Jefferson Thursday, while Clinton travels to McFarland.