Central Lee girls wipe out 6-point lead in final minute only to fall at buzzer
BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
DONNELLSON – It’s all about trust.
Which is why, with his team having just given up a six-point lead in the final minute, Holy Trinity girls basketball coach Tony Johnson just let his team play out the final seconds.
And when Natalie Randolph buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer, the Crusaders had a 47-44 win over Central Lee on Friday night.
Central Lee’s Alivia Myhre had just hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to tie the game. Rather than call a timeout to set up a play, Johnson let his team play on.
“Sometimes it’s better to let them go and not overthink it,” Johnson said.
The Crusaders charged up court after the Myhre make, and Randolph’s sister, Kassi, delivered the pass to Natalie on the left side. Her shot trickled over the rim as the buzzer sounded.
“I think we handle pressure pretty well, and (Johnson) has faith in us,” Natalie Randolph said. “We’re always working hard, and we’re always looking for each other out on the court, so he has trust in us.”
“There at the end, a lot of people call a timeout,” Johnson said. “I think it’s better to just go with it. Don’t let the defense get set up, everybody’s helter-skelter. Natalie stepped up big.”
Central Lee coach Jay Baldwin also thought about a timeout.
“Unfortunately, a couple of our girls were jumping up and down (after the Myhre shot) and didn’t get back,” Baldwin said. “I thought about calling a timeout, but I didn’t want them to set up their offense.”
Randolph’s shot spoiled the Hawks’ rally. She had scored with 1:12 remaining to give the Crusaders a 44-38 lead, but missed the free throw after being fouled on the play. Myhre scored on a putback with 42 seconds left to cut the lead to 44-40, then Makayla Morrison hit 1-of-2 free throws with 29 seconds left. Morrison had two more free throws with 16 seconds left, but missed them both. The ball went out of bounds and went back to the Hawks.
Baldwin said Myhre’s shot came off a drawn-up play.
“We got a hell of an effort in the last 30 seconds,” he said.
The Hawks led 38-34 with 4:58 to play before the Crusaders went on a 10-0 run.
“We played hard,” Baldwin said. “It’s the mental focus of the game, the little things we’ve preached and preached and preached.”
Randolph finished with 16 points. Mary Kate Bendlage led Holy Trinity with 22 points.
“She’s the real deal,” Baldwin said. “She’s tough in the post.”
Johnson liked how his team rallied.
“They stuck with it, stuck with each other, and got through it,” he said. “Their will to win and their effort, this is outstanding. They hate losing. They have the will to go, the will to win. They never stop and never give up on each other.”