By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — 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 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.
Boys, Southmoore 77, Westmoore 70 (2 OT): Trailing 59-58, Donya Rice came up with an acrobatic layup to put the SaberCats 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.