By Greg Bintz, Aviator contributor

With 1.8 seconds left in regulation and the score tied at 41 on Friday night, Middleton’s Autumn Delaney tossed up an open 12-foot shot. The 1.8 seconds felt like 1.8 million years for De Pere fans.

Thankfully, Delaney missed, and the game headed to overtime.

The team who battled the best in OT was the Redbirds (25-2), who, led by seniors Liz Nies and Olivia DeCleene, went on to post a 49-47 win over the Middleton Cardinals (23-3) and advance to tonight’s WIAA Division 1 state title game.

Down 45-41 with just a couple minutes left, Nies drew consecutive fouls and had four free throw attempts.

The only thing I heard was swish, swish, swish, and swish.

Tie ballgame. After that, three more free throws made it 48-45, Birds. But a basket by Carlee Lemirande made it a one point game. DeCleene then drew a foul with just 40 seconds left. Missing her first free throw, the crowd grew silent. It was make and force Middleton to make a bucket to tie or win, or miss and all Middleton would have to do is make a 2-point bucket to win.

Seconds later, swish. Game. Over. Middleton missed two shots in the final 10 seconds. 

Annie Schneider added 13 for the Redbirds, hitting a dagger three-pointer from the corner that put DePere up 16-7. Olivia DeCleene played all 40 minutes of the game, finishing strong with 11 points.

With Appleton North defeating Milwaukee King in surprising fashion (75-52), De Pere plays the Lightning tonight at the Resch Center scheduled for an approximate 8:15 p.m. start.