Lady Warriors fight to the finish
Toting 17 defeats into its season-finale against Lovelock, Whittell High girls basketball team didn’t have much to play for Saturday night in Zephyr Cove.
But pride and the desire to end a difficult season on a winning note combined to produce one of Whittell’s best efforts of the season. Scoring points like they haven’t all season, the Warriors took favored Lovelock into overtime before losing 68-63, in the Nevada 3A Division girls basketball game.
Senior guard Aurora Terry, who scored nine of her 19 points in overtime, had mixed feelings about the way her final game in a Warrior uniform unfolded.
“It was a good way to go out of the season. Yeah, we made it to overtime and we were playing so well, but it’s a disappointment we didn’t win our last game,” she said.
Sarah Sufka, who along with Terry played on varsity for four seasons, let her postgame tears determine how much her final game meant to her.
“It hurts a lot, especially with this being my last basketball game. It’s tough to deal with, but we played really, really hard, and we played together,” Sufka said.
Fueled by Terry’s seven quick points Whittell (6-18 overall, including 1-11 in Division II) seized a 60-57 lead halfway through the four-minute overtime session.
However, Sarah Osborne, who sported a tattoo on her right shoulder, drained a game-tying three-pointer with 1:45 to go.
“That was a backbreaker,” said Whittell coach Lindsay Wines.
Then a steal and layup by Missy Safford put Lovelock ahead for good, 62-60, with 1:26 remaining. Following a free throw by Whittell’s Caitlin Fagan, the Mustangs’ Jamie Beck buried two free throws and Brandi Gaines converted a layin for a comanding 66-61 lead.
Losing Sufka, Vanessa Brewer and Jaime Borge to fouls prevented Whittell from sending the game into a second overtime.
“I tried my hardest and still couldn’t pull it off,” said Terry, who netted all but one of Whittell’s 10 overtime points. “When Sarah and Vanessa fouled out, that made it really tough to get our heads in the right frame of mind. They are two seniors who are always out on the court and when they’re off it, it gets crazy.
“It’s nice to score, but if you don’t win, it’s not such a great feeling.”
Sufka hadn’t fouled out of any of the Warriors’ previous games.
“We panicked. We thought four minutes was four seconds. We didn’t have the same composure that we had throughout the rest of the game,” said Sufka, who led the Warriors with 24 points.
Fagan chipped in 15 Warrior points.
Both teams had ample chances to win the game in regulation. Sufka’s steal and layup provided the Warriors with a 53-52 lead with :50 remaining. Safford missed two free throws with :30 to go, but Terry committed a turnover at midcourt with only five seconds ticked off the clock. An offense rebound basket by Lovelock’s Arlene Belanger was waved off, but she was awarded two free throws. After telling her coach she wasn’t nervous, Belanger knocked down the first attempt but rimmed out the second. Osborne’s tip failed, and Whittell had 11 seconds left to win it.
However, Sufka stepped out of bounds on the baseline as time expired.
Whittell never let Lovelock pull away because of their deadly accuracy at the foul line, hitting 19-of-25 shots, and productive full-court pressure defense.
After a 81-32 thrashing at the hands of division champion Hawthorne on Friday night, Wines was proud of her girls final effort.
“It was nice to watch. They have been through a pretty tough year, including going out to Hawthorne (Friday night) and getting outscored 23-0 in the third quarter and coming back tonight,” Wines said. “Had we won, we would have ended up fifth in the league and not seventh. The girls really pulled together to try and get that win.”
Terry, Sufka and Brewer combined for 23 points against Hawthorne.
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