With 10.7 seconds remaining, trailing by one, Verona Lady Wildcat Jessica Smith calmly stepped to the free-throw line and sank two clutch shots to give Verona a 64-63 victory over the Central Lady Bulldogs.
"I was a little nervous," said Smith. "I've been in those types of situations before and had faith that I was going to hit those shots."
Central would have a chance to win the game getting to point-blank shots in the last five seconds. Each shot kissed the glass and bounced
"I thought we played two good quarters of basketball," said Central Head Coach Callie Newton. "We play too inconsistent. Verona has a good team and they never quit. That is a credit to their players and coaches."
|Central opened the game building a 7-0 lead and forcing Verona to call a time out with 5:41 remaining in the first quarter.|
The Lady Wildcats responded with a 14-0 run, closing out the first frame with a 14-7 lead. The Lady Wildcats would take a 33-23 lead into halftime.
In the third quarter, the Lady Bulldogs opened with a flurry of buckets, quickly erasing the Lady Wildcats lead. Central was led in scoring by Montia Johnson's 22 points and 18 rebounds. Central trailed 46-44 at the end of the third period.
Central opened the fourth quarter with a 5-0 spurt, which started a seesaw on the scoreboard. The game was tied three times, and the lead changed hands five times in the final period.
Central held a 49-46 lead with 6:15 left in the game, when Verona's Tristan Carrasquillo buried a three, stole the inbounds pass and hit a short jumper to give the Lady Wildcats a 51-46 lead at the 5:58 mark. Carrasquillo finished with a game high 31 points.
"We knew this was going to be a tough game," said Carrasquillo. "I am not used to scoring that many points. It feels good to get our first win."
The Lady Bulldogs had several chances to ice the game at the line. Their final chance came with 14.7 seconds left when Central missed the front end of a one-and-one. That missed shot set up the Verona heroics.
Carrasquillo led Verona statistically with 31 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. The Lady Wildcats Taylor Pinkly added 4 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Jenna Chadd chipped in 15 points, 1 rebound, 5 assists and 5 steals. Smith finished with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Shelby Barsotti contributed 1 rebound and 1 assist.
"I am happy we got the win," said Verona Head Coach Ryan Yates. "We need to do a better job of boxing out on rebounds. We played with some nervousness early on, but we got strong as the game progressed. Our success this season will depend upon our freshmen stepping up and filling in the gaps on our team."
Verona has precious little time to savor the victory. The Lady Wildcats will face the defending Class 3 State Champion Mt. Vernon Lady Mountaineers on Thursday at 6 p.m.
The Verona Wildcat boys fell 62-38 to East Newton Tuesday night in the Pierce City Tournament.
The Wildcats were led in scoring by Ascencion Estrada with 12 points. Wesley Kissinger added 11 points. Cody Ernsberger chipped in 7 points. Seth Losack and Larry Patterson each scored 4 points.
The Wildcats will be in action against Sarcoxie Friday night in Pierce City at 7:30 p.m.