By Will Johnson
SLOCUM – It was a shot basketball fans have seen replayed a million times. Time was running down and a desperation heave was made from just inside the midcourt line. It appeared the shot was going to be short and the game would go into overtime.
From out of nowhere, however, a player appeared. The player caught the ball – almost like it was a pass – and put it back up for two as the buzzer sounded to end the game.
No, this wasn’t the University of Houston Cougars, a.k.a. Phi Slamma Jamma, versus the North Carolina State Wolfpack in 1983. Akeem (before he was Hakeem) and Clyde were nowhere to be found. Derek Wittenberg didn’t shoot the ball and Lorenzo Charles didn’t put in the game winner.
Jim Valvano didn’t go running across the court looking for someone to hug and the game wasn’t held in Albuquerque, N.M.
No, this game was held on Friday, Dec. 2, 2016 in Slocum, Texas. It was the Grapeland Sandiettes versus the Slocum Lady Mustangs and no, it wasn’t even for a district championship, let alone a national championship.
The game winning shot, however, was remarkably similar. With just over four seconds remaining to play and the score tied at 46, Slocum had possession of the ball in the backcourt. The Lady Mustangs called their last timeout in o rder to plot their strategy for either taking the final shot or heading into overtime.
The ball was inbounded to Slocum’s Taylor Clark. The Lady Mustang took three dribbles to cross half-court – and as the seconds began to tick away – she launched a desperate attempt at the goal. The shot was on track, but short. As the players and fans followed the flight of the ball, no one noticed Slocum’s Jessi Ives had positioned herself under the goal.
The ball settled into the hands of Ives with mere tenths of a second remaining. The sophomore managed to put up get a shot that kissed off the glass and dropped through the hoop for two as the horn sounded to give Slocum a thrilling 48-46 victory over the Sandiettes.
The game started out with the Sandiettes taking an early lead and it appeared as if the Lady Mustangs might not be able to match up with the fast paced offense and pressure defense Grapeland has used so far this season.
After the first eight minutes of play, the Sandiettes led by a score of 16-12 thanks to five points from Ragan Bowie to go along with four apiece from Tatiyanna Bowie and Hannah Chipman. Kenya Woods also added a basket to help give Grapeland the lead after one.
The Lady Mustangs were led in the quarter by Shelby Bowman with five and Jessi Ives with three, while Taylor Clark and Briley Evers both added two.
Slocum has always been a tough place to pick up a win for opposing teams, whether in the old gym or their new facility, and the Lady Mustangs reminded the Sandiettes of that in the second quarter. The Slocum “D” ratcheted up their attack and held Grapeland to six points in the period on four points from T. Bowie and one each from Woods and KeKe Harris.
Perhaps just as important, the Lady Mustangs coaxed Chipman – the Sandiettes leading scorer – into picking up her third foul early in the quarter. With Chipman on the bench for the remainder of the half, Slocum was able to take the lead on five points apiece from Clark and Evers, as well as four from Ives.
As time was winding down in the first half, Ives made the first of her two big plays on the night. With less than five seconds left to play in the second, the Sandiettes had possession of the ball and had hopes of cutting into the Slocum lead before the half.
Grapeland worked the ball around the horn and found R. Bowie all alone behind the arc. As Bowie gathered herself to shoot, Ives flew in from the wing for a clean block that sent the Lady Mustangs into the locker room with a 26-22 lead.
After the break, it was the Lady Mustangs who threatened to run the Sandiettes out of the gym. Slocum got six points from Ives and five from Bowman while Jalynn Fletcher added two.
To their credit, the Sandiettes would not fold on Friday night. T. Bowie scored eight in the third period while R. Bowie nailed a three and Chipman made one of two from the line to make the score 39-34 after three.
As the fourth quarter got underway, Slocum Coach Dustin Bates slowed the pace of the game. Chipman hit one of two from the line to make the score 39-35 with 6:03 left to play in the game. Following a basket by MaKayla Bickerstaff, R. Bowie drained a shot from behind the arc to cut the lead to 41-38 with 4:03 remaining.
The Lady Mustangs turned the ball over on their next possession and when Chipman found the bottom of the net with a mid-range jumper, Grapeland had cut the lead to 41-40. A second turnover by Slocum, in addition to a foul by the Lady Mustangs, sent Chipman to the line with a chance to take the lead.
The sophomore made one of two from the charity stripe and with 3:24 left, the score was tied at 41. Ives followed with a two, but at the 2:01 mark of the fourth, Chipman nailed a three to make the score 44-43 in favor of Grapeland.
Bowman put the Lady Mustangs back in front with a basket as the clock crept below the one minute mark, however, Deana McKnight put the Sandiettes back in front, 46-45, with 35.2 left to play.
Ives was fouled at the 20 second mark and made one of two to tie things up at 46.
As the clock counted down, the Sandiettes had one last chance to pull out the road win, but a blown assignment and two missed free throws set the stage for the Clark/Ives game winner as the Lady Mustangs pulled out the 48-46 win over the Sandiettes.
For the game, Tatiyanna Bowie led the Sandiettes in scoring with 16. Hannah Chipman poured in 12 and Ragan Bowie netted 11. Kenya Woods added four, Deana McKnight had two and KeKe Harris added one to round out the Grapeland scoring.
Slocum was led by Jessi Ives with a game high 18 points. Shelby Bowman scored 12 while both Taylor Clark and Briley Evers dropped in seven. In addition, Makayla Bickerstaff and Jalynn Fletcher both scored two for the Lady Mustangs.
Will Johnson may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.