Feb. 23—GOOD HOPE — The only thing greater than the comeback was the celebration afterward.
Ivey Maddox and Kyndall Seal embraced like reunited sisters, both lost in a moment of unbridled joy.
Rudi Derrick leapt so high after the buzzer that Superman would've jotted down notes had he been watching.
Justin Aby did all he could to make sense of what transpired on Monday but quit well ahead of himself.
Indeed, Good Hope's varsity girls had every reason to be on cloud nine inside D.E. Ryan Gymnasium.
Because they earned every bit of it and then some.
Maddox netted a game-high 27 points, the Lady Raiders erased a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter, and Good Hope stunned fifth-ranked Deshler 78-76 in overtime to advance to the championship game of the Class 4A Northwest Regional Tournament at Wallace State.
The Lady Raiders (25-9) will play No. 4 Rogers on Tuesday at 9 a.m.
"I'm still trying to figure out what happened in this game," said Aby, Good Hope's head coach. "All I know is we won by two points. I'm looking at the scoreboard, and I'm tickled to death. Our girls battled. We called a timeout (in the fourth quarter) with the girls kind of getting down on themselves, but there was some really good leadership among the team.
"They said, 'Let's step it up defensively.' And we were able to create some turnovers and hit some shots and make some dang good plays. It was everybody on the team tonight."
The Lady Tigers held a 56-46 lead heading into the fourth quarter and eventually built it up to 70-54 with just a few minutes left in the contest.
But as Aby alluded to earlier, the Lady Raiders battled.
They turned up their defensive pressure, whittling their deficit to 10 points, then six, then three.
All of the sudden, Good Hope had put together a 13-0 spurt and — after forcing a turnover with 21 seconds left in regulation — put themselves in a position to tie the game.
Thanks to Maddox, that's exactly what happened.
The freshman sensation deftly handled the on-ball pressure of Deshler before letting loose a deep 3-pointer from the left wing that kissed the net on the way through, sent the home crowd into a frenzy and ushered the back-and-forth matchup into the extra period.
"We kept getting down by a ton of points, and I was starting to get pretty scared — not knowing if we would be able to come back," Maddox said. "But I knew we'd push through the adversity. I had no clue that my end shot was going to go in, but it did, and it was insane. (The win) is a feeling I've never felt before in my life. I've never been in this position or in a game like this with all those girls who are older than our team. It's huge."
With the momentum fully in Good Hope's corner, the Lady Raiders came out firing in overtime.
Maddox knocked down an early trey, and Charly Johnson followed with a 3-point play the old-fashioned way to propel the Lady Raiders in front by six points.
No strangers to the big stage, however, the Lady Tigers — last year's 4A state runner-up — didn't go quietly into the night, twice trimming Good Hope's lead to two down the stretch thanks in part to the latter missing a few free throws and committing a couple of turnovers.
But Aby's wet-behind-the-ears team — the starting five consists of three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior — came up with one last defensive stand, as Deshler's final possession resulted in a half-court heave that did not come close to hitting its intended target.
"Man, it was crazy," said Heather Tetro, one of those aforementioned freshmen who finished with 13 points in the victory. "We had so much anxiety and nerves throughout the game. We went into it confident and played like it in the first half. But they made a little run on us, and we just turned it up in the fourth quarter. I thought we did a heck of a job, and I'm so proud of our team."
Derrick complemented Maddox's outing with 21 points of her own.
Bailey Tetro (10), Johnson (five) and Seal (two) rounded out the scoring.
Said Bailey Tetro, Heather's twin sister: "We worked hard all summer and all season, and we're excited. This is crazy. You're nervous, but you get that first shot in and just get so excited. I expected this from our team."
The Lady Tigers were spearheaded offensively by Chloe Siegel (17) and Katie Brooke Clemmons (14).
While the early morning start won't allow for additional postgame celebrations for the Lady Raiders, Monday's triumph against a perennial contender like Deshler could have program-shifting implications. Especially for a squad bursting at the seams with talent that isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
For now, though, Good Hope is hoping for more.
And besides, it's not as if they can't recall — albeit, perhaps fuzzily — this one in the future.
"I can't describe this feeling," Heather Tetro said. "I remember it (the celebration) was energizing. I think it's a feeling you will never get in your life other than in a basketball game. When you make a 3-pointer to go into overtime and then beat a really good Deshler team by two ... that's crazy. It's a crazy feeling."
Hatton 54, Cold Springs 48
Seth Williams: 15 points
Tanner Kilgo: 12 points
Adam Hill: 9 points
*Cold Springs finishes season at 22-6
**Hatton outscored Cold Springs 23-10 in 4Q
Hatton 65, Cold Springs 46
Toni West: 29 points
Brooke Crider: 7 points
Lacey Rice: 6 points
*Cold Springs finishes season at 19-8