Salina Baldwin High's final play worked better than perfection Friday afternoon.
Yes, junior forward Audrey Millstein was supposed to take the last shot. But it wasn't supposed to be as easy as the uncontested lay-in that developed.
Millstein banked in the game winner with three seconds left in overtime for a 52-50 victory over Larned, boosting the sixth-seeded Bulldogs into today's 4 p.m. Class 4A state girls championship against Sabetha.
"That's exactly what we drew up except she was supposed to receive the ball up high and dribble in for a layup," said BHS head coach Ted Zuzzio, whose team rallied from a six-point deficit in OT. "She kept moving and no one picked her up and she was wide open on the back side."
Baldwin (21-4) gained possession at mid-court with 6.8 seconds left after the Bulldogs' defensive pressure denied Larned from reaching halfcourt within 10 seconds.
"I just wanted them to pick them up man and they just intensified the defense," Zuzzio explained.
Baldwin called time after the turnover to design the final play that went like this: Stacy Zuzzio in-bounded to point guard Ann Martin, who zipped a pass to Trina Bierman, who found Millstein wide open.
"Trina didn't see me at first and I was yelling I was so wide open," said Millstein, who kept drifting closer to the basket. "I was so nervous. I don't know what I'd do if I'd missed."
Tied 44-44 at the end of regulation, Larned scored the first six points in overtime -- all on inside buckets by 6-foot senior Kristen Crosby. Her bucket with 2:34 left was the last Indians' score as the Bulldogs closed with an 8-0 run.
Larned missed three free-throw attempts in the final minute.
"You've got to hit the free throws," Larned coach Rick Simoncic said. "And we had some key turnovers at the wrong time."
Baldwin came back throughout the game. Larned scored the first seven points before the Bulldogs rallied behind junior center Mary Denning, who scored 12 of her team-high 22 points in the first quarter.
Denning's three-pointer at the buzzer -- her first trey of the season --gave Baldwin a 16-11 lead after one quarter.
"She was phenomenal the first half," Zuzzio said of Denning.
Said Denning, "I had a feeling it was going to be a close game and we could pull it off."
Baldwin led 27-20 at halftime. Larned unleashed a 10-0 run to open the third quarter and lead 30-27.
Larned led 36-31 until Martin penetrated for two layins in the final 35 seconds to pull Baldwin within one, 36-35 heading into the final quarter.
Baldwin was in position to win in regulation. With 18.7 seconds left and a 43-42 lead, Bierman went to the free-throw line. She made the first but missed the second.
Crosby's stickback with seven seconds left sent the game into overtime.
"We feel fortunate to win," said Zuzzio, whose team last won state in 1982. "We're in the championship and I couldn't be happier."
Denning and Martin combined for 45 of Baldwin's 52 ponts. Martin had 13. Millstein finished with eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Crosby led Larned with a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds.
The Indians (23-2) will play Hayden for third place at 10 this morning. Larned had won 22 straight games until Friday.
Baldwin 52, Larned 50, OT
Trina Bierman 2-6 3-5 7, Audrey Millstein 4-9 0-0 8, Ann Martin 5-8 2-2 13, Mandy Mundinger 1-2 0-0 2, Mary Denning 9-18 3-4 22, Courtney Stultz 0-1 0-0 0, Stacy Zuzzio 0-1 0-0 0, Abby Honomichl 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-46 8-12 52.
Karrie Lawson 0-1 0-2 0, Lauri Webster 5-15 2-3 14, DonLouise Meyer 5-9 0-0 10, Stacey Bailey 0-2 0-0 0, Kristen Crosby 11-20 2-2 24, Melissa Frick 0-0 0-0 0, Nicki Stafford 0-4 1-2 1, Christina Peters 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-52 5-9 50.
Baldwin 16 11 8 9 8--52
Larned 11 9 16 8 6--50
Three-point goals -- Baldwin 2-4 (Denning 1-1, Martin 1-2, Zuzzio 0-1), Larned 3-11 (Webster 3-10, Meyer 0-1). Total fouls -- Baldwin 12, Larned 18. Turnovers -- Baldwin 23, Larned 20.