The ceremony could wait. Just moments earlier in overtime, Hamilton girls basketball senior Taylor Klug had become the program's all-time leading scorer. But it wasn't until she had that mark secured that she made the play of the game.
Klug's steal and layup with 1 minute to play in overtime proved to be a huge moment as the Chargers held off Brookfield Central, 49-46, moving into second place by themselves in the Greater Metro Conference. That set the stage for a Friday battle with first-place Divine Savior Holy Angels, right back at home in the Hamilton gym.
Klug finished with 19 points, gathering 6 of those in the extra session. Her free throws earlier in overtime gave her 1,136 career points, one better than three-year Chargers starter Mackenzie Latt, now a sophomore for the Davidson College basketball team. But with the Chargers nursing a 46-44 lead, Klug stole a Central pass shortly after an inbound from under the Hamilton basket and flipped it in to give her team some breathing room.
"I think that was definitely a tide changer there," Klug said. "It got us a little on top. Being up top (in the defense), I kind of look for my moments. I saw her looking and I was like, 'She's passing it.' … It was great that she actually did pass it, because I got it."
Central answered on a basket by Claire Haynes (18 points), and when the Chargers' Macy Williams (17 points) split free throws with 25 seconds left, the Lancers did have one last chance to tie. But unlike in regulation, when Caroline Busch canned a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left to force the extra session, the Lancers' final look from distance didn't fall.
Hamilton (12-2 overall, 6-1 in Greater Metro) beat a Central team (9-4) that had recorded impressive recent wins against Mukwonago and Brookfield East. But the Chargers survived for a chance to avenge one of their two losses in 2015-16.
"We've worked hard to get ourselves into this position, and now we have to take advantage of it," Hamilton coach Bill Scasny said. "We have two days to prepare, and it will be a big game for us Friday."
With neither team shooting the ball well, there were moments where it appeared Klug would have to wait to set the school record in that game against DSHA. She came in needing 16 points but had just 3 at halftime, where Central had taken a 16-13 lead thanks to a 10-0 run that negated Hamilton's early 11-2 lead.
Klug hit a pair of free throws with 36 seconds left in regulation, but Central was able to wriggle leading scorer Busch free for a clean look from three. Not only did Central tie it, but Klug was slapped with an offensive foul on the other end, though the Lancers were unable to get the ball past halfcourt before the buzzer sounded.
"We knew they were going to go to No. 11 (Busch), and instead of bumping out and switching automatically, we stayed in on the post for whatever reason," Scasny said. "Everybody should have been bumping out and not worried about that person under the basket."
Hamilton led for most of the second half, taking a lead as large as 38-31 with 4 minutes to go. Haynes scored 6 straight points for Central in the home stretch to put the Lancers within striking distance, and she scored twice more in overtime, but the Chargers never trailed in the extra period.
Klug (now with 1,138 points) played her freshman year on the same court as Latt before Latt transferred to a school near Kalamazoo, Michigan for her senior season.
"Maybe I'll give her a ring," Klug said with a laugh, noting that she stayed in contact with Latt especially during Klug's sophomore year after Latt departed. "(I'll say), 'Sorry, I passed you up.'
"(The record) is not easy to brush off. At the beginning of the season, it was something to strive for. Definitely coming close in this game and getting closer to the record, it definitely got more on my mind. I wanted to beat it, obviously. It's something to strive for and it's not easy to get. It feels great. I have a lot to thank for my team for this. I can't do this by myself."
As the lone senior on the team, Klug has had to be more than just the leading scorer.
"Everybody follows her, and they should," Scasny said. "She works hard and sets a good example. When the youth come and watch, they see how hard she plays. It's been tougher this year because obviously everyone is keying on her, so it's not as easy to get shots. She just has the knack for making a big play when needed."