By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
Haley Eaves had no conscience. For most basketball players, that can be a detriment. But for the Southmoore freshman, it was a blessing.
Eaves came up with the biggest shot of her short career Tuesday in helping lead the third-ranked SaberCats to a 59-58 overtime victory over cross-town rival Westmoore at WMH.
“All together I think everyone was really happy,” Eaves said. “Just ecstatic. Whenever I made it, they were really happy for me. I’m glad to be on a team like this. We might not start off good, but at the end, we will definitely fight to win.”
With 2:08 left in overtime, Ashley Gomez hit a 3-pointer to put Westmoore up 56-53. Southmoore came up empty on the offensive end and the Jags got the ball back. This time Gomez came up with a layup while being fouled. She missed her free throw, the Jags got the rebound leading by five.
After Westmoore’s Kaci Richardson missed another from the charity stripe, Eaves hit a 3-pointer to cut deficit to two. Westmoore came up empty at the free throw line twice more and the SaberCats got the ball as the clock winded down. With no time-outs available, coach Britney Kannady-Sayes could only watch as her SaberCats tried to find a way to win.
With 3.7 seconds left on the clock, the ball was passed to Eaves on the perimeter. Without hesitation, she hoisted up a 30-footer that hit backboard and went in to put the Cats up by one.
“All I was thinking was please God go in,” Eaves said. “And he pulled through for me. You just have to have confidence that I’ll knock them down.”
Southmoore (7-0) prevented the Jags from getting a shot off in the finals seconds to preserve the victory.
“When you are up against that situation, and you know you need two shots, you’re going to put in somebody that just really doesn’t care,” Kannady-Sayes said. “And that’s a freshman. And she did it. There wasn’t a play besides, put in the freshman and see what she can do.”
Southmoore’s Serithia Hawkins led all scorers with 29 points. Alyssa Jones added 12. Eaves’ six points all came in overtime.
Gomez scored 22 to pace the Jaguars. Victoria Lay chipped in with 12. However, it was the team’s 1-for-13 performance at the free throw line that may have cost the Jaguars the most.
“If we take care of that, it is our game,” Westmoore coach Andrea Guziec said. “I really didn’t need to say anything. They knew exactly what the situation was. Unfortunately the girls at the end of the game took it heart to heart. But w had people miss early in the game to.”
With 3:20 left in the fourth quarter, Southmoore led 45-43. Jones drained a jumper push lead to four. After the Jaguars came up empty on their next possession, Hawkins was fouled and she knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Cats a 49-43 lead with 2:44 left.
Kyeria Hannah was fouled and she hit a pair of free throws to give the Cats a 51-46 lead with 1:33 on the clock. But Gomez answered with a layup over the Southmoore post players.
Leading 51-48, Southmoore ran the clock down until 37 seconds remained and Westmoore missed another free throw.
The Jaguars got the ball to Richardson, who drained another 3-pointer to tie the contest at 51-51. Southmoore was unable to get a shot off in the final 6.3 seconds and the game went to overtime.
“Well, lets just say I yelled, laid flat on the floor and I asked them how did they win that ball game,” Kannady-Sayes said. “That’s the heart of a champion. When your back is up against the wall, the heart of a champion comes out and doesn’t stop beating. That’s how they pulled that how.”
Boys, Southmoore 77, Westmoore 70 (2 OT): With 1:40 left in the fourth quarter, Westmoore held a 54-51 advantage.
Southmoore had a couple of chances to tie or cut the lead to one, but Preston Smith’s shots were off the mark. The Jags tried to run out the clock, but Landon Smith had the ball stolen from him. The turnover led to a Donya Rice game-tying 3-pointer.
After a time-out, Rice deflected the ball from Landon Smith. Southmoore got the ball with 17.5 seconds left, but were unable to connect on a shot. The game went into overtime tied at 54-54.
Trailing 59-58, Rice came up with an acrobatic layup to put the Cats ahead by one. But Tripp Fuller responded with his own shot as he was fouled. The free throw put the Jags up 62-60. Rice tried to close the game out with a 3-pointer, but his shot was short. However, Justin Bean flew in for the tip in to send the contest into double overtime.
The SaberCats outscored the Jags 15-8 in the double overtime session to close out the night.
Bean led all scorers with 24 points. Preston Smith added 15 for the Cats.
Fuller led the Jags with 16 points. Landon Smith added 15 in the loss.