BELOIT - This one was worth waiting for.
After struggling in close games all season, the Beloit Turner Trojans broke through in their final home game of the season, defeating McFarland 63-54 thanks to an outstanding second half.
The Trojans, who will face Jefferson in the regular season finale on Saturday afternoon, outscored the Spartans 35-23 in the second half to walk away with the win.
The game's key sequence came with 5:30 to play. With Turner hanging on to a 46-43 lead, Trojan junior Jenn Njoo hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions, giving the Trojans a 55-45 lead with 5:12 to play.
The Spartans, armed with just three conference losses entering the game, would get no closer than seven for the remainder of the game.
Njoo ended up with five of Turner's 12 3-pointers, finishing with 17 points.
"I was a little surprised they kept leaving me open," Njoo said. "Last time when we played them, they face-guarded me. I'm glad they decided not to do that this time."
Olivia Tinder led the way for Turner with 19 points. Life is a lot easier for Tinder when her teammates are raining in jumpers from all over the floor.
"It's huge when our shooters are hitting from outside," Tinder said. "It clears the lane up a lot for me. When we don't make shots, it gets really clogged, but tonight they were just coming down and nailing them. We have good shooters, we know that. We've just got to have confidence in them."
"We are really tough to defend when we hit shots like that," Turenr coach Nick Faralli said. "And tonight, we had a bunch of different people hit shots. Those shots brought us back into the game, and then they ended up giving us some room to breathe."
Tinder, who struggled mightily at the free throw line last year, stepped up and continued her solid season at the line by making 10-for-13, many of them down the stretch as the Trojans lengthened their advantage.
"That's a kid who puts in the work," Faralli said. "She finds a gym whenever she can. She'll go to the middle school, she'll go to the Y before the game just to get some free throws in. She's a hard-working kid, and she was rewarded tonight again with another great stat line."
Faralli said the Trojans' confidence actually began to grow under an odd circumstance: A buzzer-beating loss at East Troy Wednesday, when Turner made the plays down the stretch to win the game, but were beaten by a banked-in trey at the buzzer.
"Even though it ended in heartbreak, we found a way to get big shots to go and took a lead at the end of the game," Faralli said. "That helped us develop some confidence, because we saw that that was the second best team in the conference, on the road, and until the last tenth of a second, we were winning. Our kids answered the bell tonight."
Senior Mara Fowler went out in style at home, finishing with 11 points, while Marlee Young played terrific defense and ended with eight. T