Adams Central center Rachel Goodon (45) is introduced before their game against Bridgeport Friday morning. Adams Central won, 47-44.
Adams Central center Rachel Goodon (45) is introduced before their game against Bridgeport Friday morning. Adams Central won, 47-44.


Adams Central beats Bridgeport in the semifinals, 47-44.

Two of the top teams in Class C1 faced off Friday morning at Pinnacle Bank Arena as the #2 Bridgeport Bulldogs battled the #3 Adams Central Patriots with a spot in the state finals on the line. The big story pregame was the matchup at the center position. Both teams ran through their star bigs all year, and the matchup between Bridgeport’s 6’3” Ruthie Loomis-Goltl (averaging 21 points and seven rebounds per game) and Adams Central’s 6’4” Rachel Goodon (averaging 14 points and seven rebounds) was the main attraction. 

The Bulldogs’ strategy was immediately clear as the game got underway, with Dave Kuhlen’s team putting full-court pressure on Adams Central and swarming to the ball with double teams. However, Bridgeport’s offense, their main strength all season long, got off to a shaky start, missing open looks and turning the ball over early. Adams Central used their size advantage to force Bridgeport into tough looks and shoot over the Bulldogs, going on a 10-0 run to pull ahead 10-5. Bridgeport, led by Ruthie Loomis-Goltl and her sister Olivia, found their rhythm late in the quarter, tying the score at 10-10.

The Patriots struggled to get their offense going in the second quarter, only connecting on their first 3-pointer of the game with 4:55 to go until halftime. A big part of their struggles was the play of Rachel Goodon, who scored just one point in the second half and was often visibly frustrated as she couldn’t get her shots to fall. However, Bridgeport could not exploit this uncharacteristically poor performance, as their usually powerful offense (71.5 PPG in the regular season) couldn’t solve the Adams Central defense. The Bulldogs took a narrow 20-17 lead into halftime. 

The defensive battle continued in the third quarter, as neither team could make a basket for the first 2:30 of the second half. Olivia Loomis-Goltl had a scary moment early in the quarter, taking a hard fall under the basket and staying down for nearly a minute. Fortunately, she was able to walk off unassisted with applause from the crowd and checked back into the game later to finish with 14 points. Bridgeport’s relentless pressure started to get to Adams Central, as they turned the ball over several times in the quarter and botched multiple inbound passes. Goodon continued to struggle, but a key layup and a block on the other end gave Patriots fans hope that their star could be heating up as the third quarter came to a close, Bridgeport leading 29-27. 

Pinnacle Bank Arena was electric for the entire fourth quarter, as both teams turned the intensity up with a trip to the state finals at stake. Ruthie Loomis-Goltl was dominant down low for the Bulldogs, scoring at will even when Adams Central sent double teams her way, and racking up a game-high 18 points. However, Patriots wing Megyn Scott matched her shot for shot down the stretch, giving Adams Central the lead with under four minutes to play. With both teams not giving an inch on defense, the action turned physical, with multiple foul calls in the final two minutes leaving the score tied at 40 with 11.3 seconds on the clock. Rachel Goodon missed a pair of free throws, giving Bridgeport one last chance for a game-winning shot. However, Kuhlen opted to take a timeout, and Bridgeport’s last-second heave missed the mark, as four quarters weren’t enough to decide this incredible game.

The physicality amped up even more in the four-minute overtime period, with five fouls being handed out in the span of three minutes as the Bulldogs and Patriots found themselves locked in a free throw contest for a shot at the state championship. The Loomis-Goltl sisters combined for four made free throws in the period and seemingly had Bridgeport in control with just over a minute left. Megyn Scott once again answered back, though, calmly knocking down two huge free throws to tie the game at 44. But it wouldn’t be Scott, either-Loomis-Goltl sister, or any other star- or starter- who decided this game. With under half a minute to play, Adams Central reserve guard Kadi Kimberly drained an incredible three-pointer that left the hundreds-strong crowd in disbelief. On Bridgeport’s last-ditch effort to force double overtime, the Patriots were all over the inbounds pass, forcing one final turnover as time expired to walk away with an instant classic 47-44 upset win.

Adams Central and their contingent of red-clad fans were ecstatic postgame, as the Patriots advanced to their first championship final in nearly three decades. However, they won’t have much time to celebrate their victory, as the championship game is set for 11:00 AM on Saturday against #1 North Bend. As for Bridgeport, the Bulldogs will make the long trek home after coming up short once again. Before they do, though, they’ll face #5 Malcolm at 1:00 PM Saturday in the third-place consolation game- but it’s hard not to wonder what could have been for these Bulldogs.