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Buzzer-beating shot gives Regi dramatic win in senior girls basketball final
Posted: November 11th, 2013 @ 11:41pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
Jason Reynolds has been in a few basketball games that ended as dramatically as the county senior girls final did Monday night.
"Some of them ended a little better," the La Salle Black Knights coach said with chagrin, after a buzzer-beating shot by Rebecca Wendland gave the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers a 34-33 victory in the Kingston Area high school championship contest in the Queen's University athletics centre.
It looked as though La Salle, which trailed by as much as seven points in the first half - and at different points three and four points in the fourth quarter - had battled its way to victory when Regi's Nora Lloyd-Ellis dribbled the ball out of bounds as she tried to get past a La Salle defender while driving to the basket in the game's dying seconds.
Nursing a one-point with the ball out of bounds and 4.7 seconds on the clock, the Knights' inbound pass was intercepted by Bridget Mulholland, who got the ball under the basket to Kallysta Deodato. Deodato missed the shot but Lloyd-Ellis got a hand on the rebound and it went to Wendland, who put a desperation shot up from the top of the key.
The buzzer was sounding as it went through the hoop.
"Those are the shots that you're a hero or you're a bum," Regi coach Lesley Stevenson said. "It was a lucky tip, Rebecca caught it and she shot the ball properly, which we really hadn't done a lot during the game, and I think we stole it from La Salle.
"La Salle played their guts out the whole game. They deserved to win. They played so hard and our girls fought and they were able to somehow get their hands on the ball (at the end)."
The game was surprisingly close, given that the Panthers were undefeated in 12 league and playoff contests, and had allowed only two opponents in that time to come closer than 24 points.
The game was close through the first eight minutes, and when Regi, midway through the second quarter, slowly took the lead to 16-9, it looked as if the Panthers were poised to pull away but La Salle cut the deficit to a single point by halftime. Then, when a 12-3 Panthers run late from the middle of the third quarter to the middle of the fourth turned La Salle's biggest lead, five points, into a four-point Regi advantage, it again appeared as if the Knights might have had their last gasp.
Not so. A three-point basket by Lilie Dixon lifted La Salle to within a point and a basket by Kristin Treitz gave the Knights a one-point lead with about three and a half minutes to play. Lloyd-Ellis restored the Regi lead about a minute later and then La Salle went back ahead on a basket by Chelsea Van Camp.
About two minutes remained to be played but with each team exerting pressure defence, they traded turnovers into the game's dying seconds and, perhaps fittingly, it was a turnover that led to the decisive basket.
"We did well to get back into it," said Reynolds, whose team had beaten Regi in a preseason tournament, also with a shot at the end of the game to win.
To hold a team whose average margin of victory was 27 points to just 34 points in a game was testament to some splendid defensive play.
"We defended really well," Reynolds said. "We did a good job of transitioning back on defence and made every shot that they took tough.
"They had a couple of runs and we bent a little bit but we got back into it."
La Salle held Regi's top scorer, Mulholland, to just five points, all of them in the first half.
"We decided to play her like everybody else," Reynolds said. "We tried to do something against her in our league game and it didn't work, so we went to our regular defence and we have some good defenders. Lilie Dixon and Sarah Beech took turns and they did a great job on her."
Stevenson, after the initial euphoria of watching the game-winning shot go through the basket, sat quietly for several moments to consider the enormity of what she'd just seen. Later, she paid tribute to her opponent.
"La Salle played from one end of the court to the other the entire game and we stole the game from them in the last second," she said. "My hat's off to them, how hard they played. They were amazing. They truly were amazing."
The most important thing the Knights did, she said, was get her players off their game.
"We started to play their style," Stevenson said. "They weren't overly physical, because we play very physical as well, but their press, even though we practised the press break millions of times, they were able to get us to rush on our offence and not really follow through with what we've been practising and what we're meant to do.
"It was like the first-round-of-the-NCAA-tournament jitters. It was not a pretty game and it wasn't a pretty win, that's for sure."
That La Salle kept the game so close for so long contributed to those jitters, Stevenson said.
"I think people being close to us is something we're not ready for," she said. "We had a bunch of people playing as individuals rather than as a team at times. La Salle came out as a team. They were ready to take whatever we threw at them."
Deodato led Regi with nine points, while Wendland scored seven. Van Camp led all scorers in the losing cause with 11 points for La Salle.
Both teams will now advance to Eastern Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association playoffs this week. Wednesday, Regi will face Thousand Islands of Brockville in the AAA championship game at 1 p.m. at Holy Cross, while La Salle will play in the AA championship tournament Thursday at Sydenham.
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