Whitefish senior star Kate Klundt scored an improbable eight consecutive points in a little more than a minute to lead the Whitefish Lady Bulldogs to a thrilling upset over fourth-seeded Polson on Thursday evening in the first round of the Northwestern A girls divisional basketball tournament.
Her team down 65-60 with less than a minute and a half left in regulation, Klundt broke down the tiring Polson defense with coast-to-coast drives, offensive rebounds and unwavering moves to the rim. Though she barely rested the entire game, she appeared to have gained energy in the waning minutes as everyone else deflated around her. Whitefish won 68-65.
Klundt, held scoreless in the first quarter, finished the game with a game-high 32 points and 11 rebounds. She had nine points in the second quarter, 11 in the third and 12 in the decisive final period.
Whitefish, the fifth seed, had a 50-47 lead at the beginning of the wild fourth quarter. The Bulldogs quickly extended their lead to 56-49 with 6:40 remaining in the fourth. About a minute later, Klundt picked up her fourth foul. Polson’s Sarah Newton hit two free throws to bring the game to 56-55.
Then with 4:32 on the clock, sophomore star Breanne Kelley hit a long two-pointer to give Polson its first lead since midway through the third quarter at 57-56. Klundt responded with two straight baskets to put Whitefish up 60-57.
At that point, the game was becoming increasingly physical, with fouls called nearly every time down the court on both sides of the ball. Polson went on an 8-0 run beginning at the four-minute mark, holding a 65-60 lead with about minute and a half left.
Then Klundt took over.
Klundt grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled with 1:16 remaining. She hit two free throws and then 15 seconds later hit another free throw to bring the score to 65-63. With 40 seconds left, she scored again to tie the game up.
Polson’s Nicole Davey, who finished with a team-high 13 points, had a wide-open layup on a breakaway following a Whitefish defensive miscommunication with just under 30 seconds left. But Davey missed and Klundt ended up with the ball yet again.
Klundt drove the length of the court, blowing past two Polson defenders, and was intentionally fouled as she neared the rim with 23.8 seconds remaining. She hit one of the free throws and, after Whitefish got the ball back because of the intentional foul, she was fouled again. This time, with the scoreboard showing 15.1 seconds, Klundt hit both free throws to put the score at 68-65.
Polson had one more chance – a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer – but the shot failed to draw rim. When the final buzzer sounded, a boisterous Whitefish crowd erupted as Klundt skipped and jumped across the length of the floor, flanked by her teammates.
Whitefish advances to play No. 1 Columbia Falls Friday evening at 6 p.m. at Glacier High School. Polson will play Saturday morning in a loser-out game.
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