Mav­er­ick girls rally foiled by an­swered prayer

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By BILL GATES bgates@ches­pub.com

The Eastern Tech girls bas­ket­ball team was sec­onds away from com­plet­ing an stir­ring vic­tory over vis­it­ing Perry Hall on Se­nior Night, a thrilling tale com­plete with lategame hero­ics and a rally from a nine­point deficit in the fourth quar­ter. Then the Ga­tors rewrote the script. Casey Ben­der’s off-bal­ance three­p­ointer with less than four sec­onds re­main­ing led to a Ga­tor pile-up at mid-court as Perry Hall es­caped with a 47-46 win.

Time ex­pired be­fore Eastern Tech could in­bound the ball and at­tempt a fi­nal shot.

“What a great shot,” Eastern Tech coach Jim Stromberg said. “A shot that kid will re­mem­ber for a long, long time.

“We made a nice come­back, and it’s hard to lose that way, but if a kid has to make that kind of shot to beat us, good for them.”

“Trail­ing 36-27 with five min­utes re­main­ing in the game, the Mav­er­icks faced a daunting task: they trailed by more points than they had av­er­aged in the three pre­vi­ous quar­ters (eight).

But two three-pointers by Des­tiny Franklin sparked a 10-2 run that pulled Eastern Tech to within 38-37 with 3:11 re­main­ing in the game.

Perry Hall still led 42-39 with 1:43 left to play. But a layup by Franklin and a three-point play by Se­quoia Rankin put the Mav­er­icks in the lead for the first time since the open­ing sec­onds of the sec­ond quar­ter, 4442

yo Ogun­biyi added two free throws and the Mav­er­icks seemed to have the game in hand, lead­ing 46-42 with 25 sec­onds re­main­ing and hav­ing held the Ga­tors to no field goals over the pre­vi­ous four min­utes. Ben­der missed a three-point at

tempt, but Perry Hall’s Jes­sica Auvil grabbed the re­bound and scored on a layup to make it a two-point game with 10 sec­onds left to play.

The Mav­er­icks had an op­por­tu­nity to put the game away, but missed the front end of a one-and-one. On the in­bounds play, Ben­der caught a long pass just out­side the three-point line, turned and flung up a one-handed prayer that seemed o be off-tar­get. It wasn’t. On the missed free throw, Eastern Tech had grabbed the re­bound, but the of­fi­cials ruled the ball had not touched the rim and pos­ses­sion was awarded to Perry Hall.

Stromberg felt the ball had touched the rim, but “when you miss 14 foul shots, you’re of­ten not go­ing to win,” he said.

“When we were up by four, I told the play­ers we have got to make the free throws. We have to step up there with con­fi­dence and knock it down.”

Eastern Tech (10-8) had led 10-9 in the open­ing minute of the sec­ond quar­ter af­ter a bas­ket by Emily Wasse­nius, but the Ga­tors used a 7-0 run over the next three min­utes to take a 16-10 lead and led 21-15 at half­time.

It was 34-25, Perry Hall, en­ter­ing the fourth quar­ter. The Mav­er­icks al­most matched that to­tal in the fourth quar­ter, scor­ing 21 points.

“We played a lit­tle bit harder,” Stromberg said. “We made some shots, didn’t turn the ball over as much. And our de­fense was a lot bet­ter in the sec­ond half.”

PHOTO BY BILL GATES

Eastern Tech’s Des­tiny Franklin dur­ing the one-point loss to Perry Hall last week.

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