By Will Johnson
LOVELADY – It came down to a final shot – just as it should – when the Lovelady Lady Lions and Grapeland Sandiettes take their rivalry to the basketball court.
The Lady Lions battled back from an eight point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime. The Sandiettes appeared to be gassed in OT until Ragan Bowie hit a clutch three pointer to tie the game at 45.
After the Lady Lions went up by two with less than 10 seconds remaining, the Sandiettes were able to work the ball into the front court and into the hands of Tatiyanna Bowie in the low post. Bowie put up the shot and it looked as if it was going to drop and force a second overtime period but…
The ball hung on the side of the rim and stayed there for what seemed like an eternity. Then – in an instant – as the Grapeland fans tried to will the ball through the hoop, a mighty roar came from the Lovelady fans to seemingly push the ball off the rim.
Fans on both sides of the court held their collective breath as the ball fell to the floor and a mad scramble ensued. Precious tenths of a second ran off the game clock as the players scrambled for possession. When a referee finally blew his whistle, the clock showed .84 seconds remaining.
All eyes snapped to the scorer’s table to see which way the possession arrow pointed. The fans filing into the Lovelady gymnasium for the boys’ game could tell by the groans coming from the visitors’ side and the cheers emanating from the home side of the court – the ball and the game belonged to the Lady Lions – as they escaped with a classic, 47-45 OT victory.
Given the way the game started, no one would have thought the contest would end the way it did. The Sandiettes were down by three after the first quarter, but rallied in the second period to take a double digit lead at one point before heading into halftime with an eight point advantage.
After the break both the Lady Lions and Sandiettes struggled to find any offense in the third quarter as both teams only scored seven.
With the Sandiettes ahead 34-26, Lovelady began to mount a comeback. The Lady Lions held the Sandiettes scoreless for nearly the first four minutes and managed to tie the game at 34 with 4:22 remaining in regulation.
A two from Hannah Chipman Grapeland a 36-34 lead at the four minute mark, but the Lady Lions managed to tie the game once again with 3:24 left to play on a bucket from Hannah Burleson. DeDe McKnight untied the game with a put back at the 1:52 mark but Lovelady’s Sarah Thompson knotted the game back up.
The Sandiettes had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but a turnover in the final seconds sent the game into overtime.
Once the OT period began, Burleson took over and scored seven of Lovelady’s nine points in the extra frame. The Sandiettes kept it close on R. Bowie’s three and twos from T. Bowie and KeKe Harris but ultimately it was the Lady Lions who had just enough to escape with the 47-45 OT win.
The Sandiettes were led in scoring by Hannah Chipman with 17 points and Tatiyanna Bowie with nine. Ragan Bowie and KeKe Harris both dropped in six, DeDe McKnight added five and Kenya Woods chipped in two.
Hannah Burleson led the Lady Lions with a game-high 19 points. Kaiden LeMaire went for nine while both Madelyn James and Jala Rollo knocked down six apiece. Emily McClure added five and Sarah Thompson closed out the Lovelady point production with two.
After the game, Lovelady Coach Jeff Rollo discussed his team’s performance.
“It was very emotional. I know the first quarter we came out with a lot of intensity and then Grapeland turned up their intensity and grabbed the lead. They took an eight point lead at halftime and into the fourth quarter, but our girls just kept fighting,” he said.
“We went into overtime and that was the first time we have been in OT all year. We’ve had a couple of close games that we pulled out in the end and a few that we lost, but his is the first time this year we faced an overtime situation,” Rollo added.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them. They really stepped up on all different levels,” he said.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.