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Free throws and fouls highlight SWAL finale
Times photo: Mark Nesbitt Darlingtons Miranda Wiegel goes up for a shot during Friday's 67-57 win over Southwestern.
DARLINGTON - The Darlington girls basketball team survived a free throw shootout that included almost 100 free throws in a comeback 67-57 win over Southwestern Friday night.

Darlington and Southwestern combined to shoot 92 free throws and racked up 59 fouls. The Redbirds (8-14, 4-10 SWAL) made 33 of 56 free throws and the Wildcats made 23 of 36.

"I always tell the girls we need to get to the line 24 times in a game," Darlington coach Adam Rotar said. "They met that goal. Thirty-three extra points. That's the difference in the game. We shot 20 more free throws. We still have to work on our free throws."

The Redbirds hit 12 of 19 free throws in the final 1 minute, 45 seconds. Darlington sophomore Amy Jorgenson, who scored a team-high 21 points, made 7 of 10 free throws in the final two minutes to help the Redbirds hang on for the victory.

A big turning point in the game came with 1:33 to go when Jorgenson was fouled and the Wildcats were also called for a technical foul. She made 3 of 4 free throws to extend the Redbirds' seven-point lead to 57-47.

"We still had to execute no matter what," Rotar said. "The game was not over."

It was far from over. Southwestern's Amy Tranel, who scored 14 points with four 3-pointers, drilled a 3-pointer to cut the Redbirds' lead to 59-55 with 53 seconds left. The Redbirds sealed the win by making their free throws in the clutch.

The Redbirds erased a 30-22 halftime deficit with a 17-2 third-quarter run. The spurt was highlighted by the Redbirds' press and a switch to a 2-3 zone. The switch to a zone helped slow down Katelyn Hoppman, who scored a game-high 24 points.

"I think we just started on a negative note," Jorgenson said.

Rotar wanted to take away Hoppman's easy touches in the post in the second half.

"We just had to make sure we kept her in our sights," Rotar said. "We kept our eyes on her and made sure we had awareness."

Southwestern was playing without injured point guard Haley Jansen.

"I don't think her sitting out had anything to do with it," Jorgenson said of the Redbirds' third quarter run. "We had to look for No. 23 (Hoppman). We had to pack it in."

Darlington junior Elizabeth Mathias gave the Redbirds a boost scoring 14 of her 16 points in the second half. Fellow junior Carley McDonald had 13 points and nine rebounds. Junior Miranda Wiegel scored five points, but also had nine rebounds and senior Ashley Martin had five points and eight rebounds in her last regular season home game on Senior Night.

Mathias scored on an offensive rebound and putback to cut the Wildcats' lead to 30-26 early in the third quarter. Fellow junior Shawni Smith came up with a steal that led to a Jorgenson layup. Jorgenson came through with a clutch steal and another layup to tie the game at 30 with about 5 minutes left in the period. Darlington junior Taryn Evenstad drained a 3-pointer to give the Redbirds a 38-32 lead with 1:40 to go in the third quarter.

"I was confident because the girls were doing what I wanted them to do and that is attack, attack, attack," Rotar said.

Darlington opens the WIAA Division 3 Monroe regional March 9 at No. 1 ranked Cuba City.

"We are trying to get better and develop as a team and individuals on the court," Rotar said. "I'm not done and these girls are not done."