ELDRIDGE — It's just three games into the high school basketball season, but the madness has already begun.
A grind-it-out, back-and-forth girls basketball game ended with Class 4A No. 9 North Scott upsetting Class 5A No. 1 Davenport North 65-59 in overtime, overcoming some cold shooting and turnovers to hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season.
"It feels great. I'm pumped, but it's Tuesday, you've got to get back at it tomorrow," Karli Rucker said. "It's just really exciting but we can't stop here."
In a game that featured 12 lead changes and 11 ties, Rucker spurred the Lancers (3-0, 2-0 MAC) in overtime, hitting a 3-pointer to give North Scott a quick 55-52 lead. The Lancers pulled out to a 59-55 lead with less than two minutes remaining but the Wildcats fought back, a 3 from Mariah Mayfield tying the game at 59-59 with a minute, 25 seconds remaining.
That was it for the Wildcats (2-1, 1-1) who had two turnovers following the Mayfield basket and were forced to put Rucker on the free-throw line, where she was perfect down the stretch to seal the game.
The game featured two Division I basketball commits in North's Jinaya Houston and Rucker, but the duo didn't start out the game strong. Houston, an Iowa signee, missed her first nine shots while Rucker, a UNI commit, didn't have a point in the first half. North Scott led 26-25 at halftime, despite making just eight shots from the field.
The pair played better in the second half, as Houston had 13 points and Rucker had a team-high 18 points. Rucker's sister, Rylie, and Hannah Moeller carried the load while the senior settled in, Rylie with 15 points and Moeller 14, nine in the first half.
"We stuck together. We knew going in that people didn't expect us to win and that lit a fire under us, it motivated us to put everything we had out on the court tonight," Moeller said. "We really picked each other up, even though (Karli's) offense wasn't there, her defense was definitely there and that carried on into our offense."
Jacionna Stowers led the Wildcats with 25 points and Paige Bradford added 12 points and 12 rebounds, but with Houston's cold start, the Wildcats struggled to capitalize on a sloppy Lancer squad that committed 23 total turnovers.
Moeller had a lot to do with Houston's poor shooting, matched up on her throughout the night, but the Wildcats also missed some makable shots. On the night, the Wildcats shot just 31.4 percent from the field and didn't get to the free throw line enough, 8 of 14 on the night and just 2 of 5 in overtime.
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"North Scott just came to play. It was that night where we couldn't, we struggled to get anything to fall," North head coach Ron O'Brien said. "We had a lot of opportunities and the ball just wouldn't go in ... we're going to have those games, it just wasn't our night."
On the other side, North Scott routinely pounded the ball inside and got the Wildcats in foul trouble. Stowers picked up three fouls in the first half, and Bradford and Coral Dillie both fouled out. The Lancers capitalized on their chances from the free throw line, going 23 of 30 on the night.
"It was just the effort of it. I can't fault their effort, the way they fought through screens ... our effort going to the glass and going the other direction was good," North Scott head coach T.J. Case said. "We were patient at times but we attacked when we needed to."
While there's a big cause for a Lancer celebration, there's not too much despair from the Wildcats, despite the upset. They were in this same situation last season, losing to the Lancers four games into the season. They responded by winning the conference title and earning a state tournament bid.
They've got to reset quickly with Pleasant Valley coming into their building on Friday. A rematch with the Lancers on Jan. 10 is still a long way off for both teams.
"We have to realize that every team falls short once in a while," Stowers said. "I don't think they outhustled us, we just fell short. We just get back to practice and figure out how to beat every team in different ways."