The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

March 15, 2014

Miracle finish puts Alva in finals

BETHANY, Okla. —  Jaden Hobbs started slow and finished with a state record.

Alva started down big and finished with a second straight state title berth in hand after a 63-62 win over Washington.

Friday’s 3A girls basketball state semifinal at Southern Nazarene University started simply enough on an uncontested Hobbs layup, but finished on a Hobbs free throw that was much, much more complicated.

After two Washington free throws tied the game at 62-62 with eight seconds left, Hobbs drove to her left past one defender and through a challenge from another and put up a left-handed floater. The shot was too hard off the backboard, but the carom fell straight back to its shooter. As Hobbs tried to put in her rebound, she was hit in the elbow in the same instant the fourth-quarter buzzer sounded. A whistle sounded, not to signal the end of regulation, but to signal a foul.

“I laid it up a little too hard, but I got the rebound,” Hobbs said. “And we got a call.”

That call put Hobbs on the free throw line with no time on the clock and two chances to secure a one-point win. Washington head coach Rocky Clarke called timeout, and Hobbs, with 33 of her then 44 points having come in the last 16 game minutes, told her team, which last played in the State Fair Arena in a 2013 2A title loss, “we’re going back.”

Hobbs hit her first try and put her face in her hands. The game was over. 63-62. And even several minutes after it was finished, not everyone was entirely sure what just  what happen.

“I’ve been coaching for 30 years, and I’ve been to the state tournament 24 times,” Clarke said. “And I’ve never (seen that).”

Alva head coach Eric Smith stopped short of calling the game-ending call a bad one, but only just. A call eight seconds earlier, a foul inside that sent Washington’s Dagan Lampkin to the line to hit the game-tying free throws, could just have easily been ruled a traveling violation, he said.

“It’s the way it goes,” Smith said. “I feel for coach Clarke, and for Washington, but we’ll take it. We’ll take it.”

The finish capped a record-breaking night for Hobbs, Alva needing all 45 points to rally and the Lady Goldbug needing all 45 to break the five-on-five girls state-tournament record for scoring set by Newkirk’s Kinzie Glover’s 44-point performance in 2005.

By halftime, Hobbs and Alva seemed headed for a much bleaker end to their Friday night. Hobbs had 12 points in the first two quarters, but took 14 shots to get it, posting the lion’s share of an 8-for-23 (34 percent) shooting start for Alva that included seven misses on seven attempts from three.

Washington took advantage early, embarking on a 13-2 scoring run in the first quarter to go up 15-7 after an early 5-2 deficit. Alva closed an 18-10 hole after the first quarter to within 18-14 on a pair of Morgan Shiever free throws after an offensive rebound. Lampkin answered with seven points during a 14-6 run to close the first half and put Washington up 32-20 after a buzzer-beating putback by 6-foot-3 sophomore Kelsey Johnson.

Johnson opened the third on an easy post score to give Washington its largest lead at 34-20, Nicole Ritter scored on a putback on Alva’s next possession to drop the margin back to 34-22.

Then Hobbs caught fire.

She hit two free throws after a foul and finished a left-handed layup through a foul for three more points.

Then a three.

Then a free throw.

Then a pump fake and another three, another lefty layup, a pull-up jumper and one more three-point play after a steal to pull Alva within 45-43 entering the fourth.

The Lady Goldbugs had 23 points in the third quarter. Hobbs had 19.

Even when she deferred, it was the right call.

With 2:16 left in the fourth, Hobbs drove to her left past Lampkin, drew an extra defender and passed to where the reinforcement vacated, hitting Lora Riley for an open corner three with 2:16 left to cut the lead to 57-55. Hobbs hit a three to give Alva a 58-57 lead with 1:49 remaining, its first lead since the the first minutes.

Johnson completed a three-point play on Washington’s next lead, but only briefly. Hobbs hit a three from the left wing to regain a 61-60 lead with 1:20 left. Hobbs’ only free throw miss came with 20 seconds left, but Shiever secured the rebound and hit a foul shot to put Alva up 62-60 and set up the wild final sequence.

“(Smith) just told us it was who had the bigger heart,” Hobbs said. “In the second half, we had the bigger heart. We wanted it more.”

Whitney Randall was Alva’s next leading scorer with six points. Washington (27-1) was led by Kailee Orr and Johnson, who each had 21 points.

Alva (27-2) now advances to its second straight state title game Saturday against top-ranked Adair, which itself narrowly avoided elimination in the semis, a pair of free throws with a half-second left sealing an oddly similar win against Heritage Hall, 59-57.

“We know what it’s like to play in the finals,” Smith said. “We also know what it feels like to come away short. Hopefully that’ll be some extra motivation.”

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