Grapeland 59 Lovelady 58
By Will Johnson
LOVELADY – It’s a shot she hits 99 times out of 100. Lovelady fans said so. Grapeland Head Coach Anthony DeCello said the same. There is, however, that one time and on Tuesday, Feb. 5, it picked the wrong time to show up as a game-winning layup attempt clipped the rim and fell harmlessly to the floor.
As a result, the Grapeland Sandiettes escaped a game against the Lovelady Lady Lions with a thrilling, 59-58 OT win. For the Sandiettes, the significance of the game only involved pride. Grapeland had already secured the District 20-2A championship and a number one seed heading into the postseason.
Had the Lady Lions prevailed, however, they would have locked up second place and the number two seed out of the district as the playoffs begin next week. The loss, unfortunately for Lovelady, forced a play-in game with the Centerville Lady Tigers on Friday, Feb. 8 to determine which team would be the second seed and which one would be the third seed to start postseason play. As of press time, the score from the Lovelady/Centerville game was unavailable.
The energy on Tuesday night was palpable throughout the game in a packed Lovelady gymnasium and the intensity began in the first period. The Sandiettes and Lady Lions played evenly through the first seven minutes of the game before Grapeland pulled away to lead by six at the end of the quarter.
The Lady Lions were unable to stop Hannah Chipman in the first quarter as she racked up 10 points. She was joined in the scoring column by Teira Jones with three while both Ragan Bowie and Kenya Woods had two to help Grapeland take an early 17-11.
The Sandiettes, meanwhile, had trouble containing Kaiden LeMaire as she dropped in seven during the opening period of play while Shyanne Pipkin and Jala Rollo added two apiece.
Ragan Bowie asserted herself in the second quarter as she hit a three as part of her seven points in the period. Chipman added another three to her total and Jones knocked down a pair of free throws as the Sandiettes took a 29-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Just as Bowie came alive for Grapeland, Sarah Thompson did the same for Lovelady as she dropped in six points while battling inside with Jones. Skye Watts delivered a three-pointer for the Lady Lions while Pipkin and Macie LaRue chipped in two apiece.
Staring up at a five-point deficit, the Lady Lions came out of the break with a renewed sense of urgency and cut the lead to one with 6:17 left in the third quarter. Then, after trailing for most of the game, Lovelady took a brief 35-34 lead with 3:47 left in the third, before falling behind 44-41 by the end of three periods of play.
Watts came out of the locker room on fire as she hit her second three of the game, to go along with a pair of buckets from the field and two free throws.
Four other Lady Lions – LeMaire, Pipkin, Rollo and Rajanae Polhamus – all had two as Lovelady had trimmed the Grapeland lead to 44-41 with eight minutes remaining in the game.
The Sandiettes third quarter scoring came from Jones with six while Bowie and KeKe Harris both hit from behind the three-point line. Chipman also had three to help keep Grapeland in the lead with the fourth quarter looming.
As the fourth quarter got underway, the Sandiettes defensive pressure began to take its toll on the Lady Lions and allowed the Sandiettes to open up a 49-43 lead with just over four minutes left.
Lovelady wasn’t about to roll over, however, and tied the game the game at 50 with 1:26 left in regulation. After a pair of Jones’ free throws gave the Sandiettes a 52-50 lead with 18 seconds remaining, the Lady Lions came roaring back once again to tie the score at 52 and send the game into overtime.
During the overtime period, neither team led by more than three. With time running down, Grapeland had a one-point lead and the ball. As the clock moved under five seconds, however, Watts managed to steal the ball and streaked down the court for a potential game-winning layup.
That was when fate came into play. Watts, arguably the best player in the district, put up a shot to win the game. 99 times out of 100 she makes it. There is, however, that one percent and with tenths of a second left on the clock, that one percent picked the wrong time to show up as the game-winning layup attempt clipped the rim and fell harmlessly to the floor, giving the Grapeland Sandiettes a 58-57 win in overtime..
The Lady Lions were led in scoring by Kaiden LeMaire and Skye Watts with 15 points apiece. Sarah Thompson had a strong game as she finished with 10 while Jala Rollo had eight. Shyanne Pipkin added six while both Macie LaRue and Rajanae Polhamus both had two to round out the Lovelady point production.
The Sandiettes were paced by Hannah Chipman with a game-high 19 points. Teira Jones poured in 16 while Ragan Bowie had 12 and KeKe Harris had 10. Kenya Woods also chipped in a bucket to account for the Grapeland scoring.
After his heart rate returned to normal, Grapeland Head Coach Anthony DeCello discussed the game and his team’s performance.
“We made a shot to go ahead during overtime and then they hustled down the floor to give the best player in the district (Skye Watts) a wide-open layup, but it just didn’t go in. I felt bad for her. She‘s a great player but it just didn’t go down. She hits that shot 99 out of 100 times,” DeCello said.
He added, “We were out-coached, we were out-played and we were out-schemed. I thought their kids did a great job. I just think we survived. It’s not that we can say we won the game but rather that we survived. I think Lovelady, to their credit, played great.”
DeCello said Lovelady Coach Jeff Rollo did a fantastic job getting his team ready to play and by pressuring the Sandiettes and challenging every shot, it forced the Sandiettes to panic, somewhat.
“We didn’t handle their aggressiveness very well and we’re lucky to come out of here with a win,” he said.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.