Augusta Christian and Westminster Schools of Augusta supporters were treated to edge-of-your-seat basketball Tuesday night.
Playing at home, the Lady Lions used a 12-0 fourth-quarter run to take a late lead, then withstood a final barrage by the Lady Wildcats, winning 33-30.
In similar fashion, the Lions and Wildcats went to overtime, with the Lions dominating the extra period 9-2 to win 62-55.
Before the game, the Lady Lions acknowledged senior Anna Motes for scoring her 1,000th point earlier in the season, then she went out and led the team with 14 points.
“It was good to give Anna a win on her 1,000-point night,” said Lady Lions head coach Nick Isaac.
With senior post players Caroline Roberson and Hannah Howard out with injuries, the Lady Lions (5-2) were led by Motes and freshman KymMya Thomas (11 points). They also got key contributions on both ends of the floor from those who were filling in.
“I thought that was a huge win just with our circumstances, being so young with two senior post players out, having to give a lot of minutes to really a lot of girls who, if we had a JV team would be playing JV. But they stepped up, played great,” said Isaac, adding that Caroline Roberson and Olivia Piccolo gave great effort in rebounding against a bigger Lady Wildcats (4-3) team.
Trailing 25-19, Piccolo stuck a putback, Thomas drove the lane for a layup, then hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key as the Lady Lions took a 26-25 lead.
“She is a pure scorer and she can shoot the ball,” said Isaac of Thomas. “She’s that stone-cold, offensive killer.”
Kristen Fortunato hit a jumper and Motes a layup as the Lions built the lead to 31-25.
Amber Davis, who scored eight of her team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter, got the Lady Wildcats (4-3) within 33-30 on a putback with 20 seconds left. Anna Robertson then stole the ball, but the Lady Wildcats couldn’t make the tying shot and the Lady Lions grabbed a defensive rebound as time expired.
While the Lady Lions struggled to contain Davis in the fourth quarter, they held her scoreless in the third, creating 10 turnovers as the Lady Wildcats tried to work the ball to her in the post.
“We knew before the game we had no one to match up with Davis one-on-one, we knew it was going to have to be a team effort in our 1-2-2 zone,” Isaac said.
After outscoring the Lady Wildcats 8-4 in the first quarter, the Lady Lions scored just three points in the second quarter, those coming on Motes’ 3-pointer with two seconds left in the half.
The Lions (6-2) and Wildcats (5-2) exchanged seemingly momentum-changing plays down the stretch in regulation and when the Lions failed twice to hit a shot before the final horn, they went to overtime tied at 53.
Ashton Grant, who was saddled with foul trouble in the fourth quarter, stole the ball off the opening tip in the extra period, going in for the layup. After a layup by Nygl Eaddy tied it, Jordan Dingle drained a 3-pointer after a dish from Zach London, then Madison Williams fed Grant with a no-look wrap-around pass for a layup as they took a 60-55 lead. The Wildcats couldn’t find the range and a Calvin Taylor lay-in, assisted by London, finished it.
“We’ve been there before,” said Lions’ first-year coach John Harris, whose Lions were coming off an overtime win in a tournament in Arizona. “We don’t like to be there, but if we’re there we’ve got experience and there were some big-time plays made in some big-time situations.”
Missing starting guard Nick Fortenberry who had a death in the family, the Lions turned to Harris’ secret weapon – bodies.
“All across the board, we’re a deep team, so it can be anybody on any given night,” Harris said.
Williams led the Lions with 14 points, Dingle had 13 and Grant added 10.
Austen Stokes’ (17 points) 3-pointer gave the Wildcats a 51-47 lead with 2:25 left in the fourth quarter, but Williams made a layup and a putback and Grant made a layup off a Dingle steal for a 53-51 lead with 1:01 to play.
The Wildcats’ Michael McCraith (12 points) made a layup with 43 seconds left to tie, setting up the Lions’ final attempts as time wound down.