There’s no longer just one post player to keep an eye on when playing Bettendorf’s girls basketball team.
Emma Dennison made sure of that Tuesday night.
When the game got close in the fourth quarter, the junior scored key buckets to keep Davenport North from taking the lead in what proved to be a thriller at Bettendorf High School.
Five times the Mississippi Athletic Conference game got down to a single possession and each time the Bulldogs had an answer in a 51-46 triumphant upset over the Class 5A 15th-ranked Wildcats to pull into a tie with Assumption for third place in the conference.
“To be successful twice (against North) is good for our kids,” Bettendorf head coach Brian Tritt said. “We don’t flinch, we don’t get nervous.”
Dennison finished the night with 11 points and five rebounds. Her averages coming into the game were 7.5 points and 3.7 rebounds.
“We all know we can shoot the ball too,” Dennison said. “It’s great to use each other to (score).”
Tritt calls her their most consistent player.
“She goes about her business,” he said. “(Wroblewski) needs help and we need consistent help across the board and she did that tonight.”
Carrying a 10-point lead into the final eight minutes, that advantage for the Bulldogs (10-3, 7-3 MAC) lasted about 90 seconds.
North, who struggled to shoot all game long, got some buckets to fall from Bella Sims and Bailey Ortega to spurt an 8-0 run that made it 37-35.
The fun had just begun.
Camry Dillie responded a Kylie Wroblewski layup with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit down to one. Wroblewski and Dennison followed with layups to extend their lead to five. Dillie hit another 3 to make it 43-42 halfway finished with the fourth period.
Dennison hit the final field goal for the Bulldogs as they iced the game from the free throw line, converting six free throws out of nine attempts.
“I’ve done it a couple times in big games, but I remember to take a breath and center everything else out,” said guard Maggie Erpelding, who made the final two free throws of the game. “Just try to get them in.”
North (7-5, 6-4) had their chances.
Reese Ranum drove down the lane with a chance to tie the game but missed a layup in front of Wroblewski. They trailed by three in the final 10 seconds and turned the ball over for just the third time.
They went 1-for-8 from the charity stripe in the final quarter and lost Dillie to a bloody nose in the last 30 seconds.
“You can point to a lot of things,” Wildcats head coach Matt Hoeppner said. “It’s easy to point at the things at the end. It shouldn’t have come down to that. Just couldn’t get over the hump in the end.”
It was Bettendorf’s second straight single-digit win. Both Tritt and Erpelding feels they have officially turned a corner.
“We needed this win,” Erpelding said. “We have good momentum going into the rest of our season.”
The Wildcats have now lost back-to-back conference games for the first time this season, but Hoeppner isn’t shying away from confidence.
“They’ll keep fighting,” he said. “We’ll be ready to show up Friday, be ready to play.”
Bettendorf, trailing by eight after one, turned it on.
With North having three starters and a key rotation player on the bench with two fouls, Bettendorf took advantage.
The Bulldogs outscored the Wildcats 18-3 in the second quarter, including a 16-0 run that lasted seven minutes until Sims converted a layup and a free throw.
Wroblewski, scoreless after the first quarter, scored eight of her game-high 20 points in the frame to head into halftime with a seven-point lead.
“They were being more physical with me and face-guarding. That’s something that’s been a challenge,” said Wroblewski, who also pulled down 20 caroms. “We wanted to pass the ball more and trust ourselves.”
Hoeppner had to play majority of his junior varsity players in that quarter. He was pleased they kept in single digits.
“You can’t prepare for something like that,” Hoeppner said. “They executed exactly what we asked.”
Ashley Fountain chipped in 10 points for Bettendorf while North was led by 14 apiece from Sims and Dillie.