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T'Wolves Battle Friend To Buzzer

It couldn't have been any closer. The rebound could have gone any direction and to any player. The follow-up shot could have bounced off the rim or fell in.

In the end, Friend's Charlee Johnson converted a putback of an off-balance Bulldog shot attempt as time expired to lift Friend past Exeter-Milligan 37-36 in the opening round of the 2012 NSAA Class D-1 Girls State Basketball Tournament. Johnson's heroics also kept Timberwolf Jennifer Pribyl from being the game's hero, as the E-M junior drove the lane and banked in a gutsy runner with 12 seconds remaining in the contest to cap a furious Timberwolf rally. Pribyl finished with nine points and 11 rebounds for E-M, who trailed the Bulldogs 22-15 at halftime.

Halfway through the third quarter, one could plainly see that Thursday's contest at Lincoln Southwest High School was not going to turn out like the game played by the same two teams in the D1-1 Sub-district final two weeks earlier—a game where Friend pulled away late to defeat the Timberwolves by 13 points.

A Johnson trifecta had the Bulldogs up five early in the final stanza. But, an attacking Timberwolf offense had Friend forcing to foul (Bulldog leading scorer Taylor Menke fouled out in the fourth quarter and played sparingly in the second half) and E-M made just enough free throws to claw its way back into the contest. A Jacki Luzum free throw with 30 seconds remaining had the Timberwolves down by just a point.

Logan Zeleny paced the E-M offense with 10 points. The sophomore guard swished in the Timberwolves' only 3-pointer of the game, as E-M was a woeful 1-for-14 from beyond the 3-point arc. The Timberwolves also left some much-needed points at the free-throw line, as E-M converted just 50 percent (10-for-20) of their charity tosses.

The Timberwolves won the battle of the boards, as E-M outrebounded the Bulldogs 39-27. The Timberwolves committed more turnovers (20-16) and total fouls (21-18) in the contest.

Megan Zwickl scored six points in the game and Luzum and Elly Korbelik both netted four points. Taylor Erdkamp scored three points to complete the scoring for E-M.

The Timberwolves end their season 20-5. Injured starter Claire White, who spent the second half of her final season cheering on her teammates from the bench due to injuries suffered in a car accident, is the lone senior for E-M.