Lady Lions slip past Valley View in overtime thriller
Manila and Valley View have faced off twice this season, with the Lady Lions taking the first matchup, a thrilling overtime victory in the finals of the Gerald Jennings Tournament in early December. The two rivals squared off again Saturday, Dec. 28, this time in the Division II semifinals of the 67th Annual Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament. Once again, the two teams battled into overtime, putting a raucous NEA crowd on the edge of their seats. In the end, it was the Lady Lions who came away with the victory, a 72-71 heart-stopper, catapulting Manila into the NEA finals.
The two teams battled on even terms throughout the first quarter, until Emily Cook's three pointer at the 1:27 mark gave Manila a 15-13 lead. Julia Byrd answered for the Lady Blazers with a trey of her own to push Valley View in front, 16-15, after the first period of play.
Manila bounced back to begin the second quarter, thanks to a technical foul against Valley View, caught with six players on the court. Cook nailed the technical foul shots to put Manila on top, 17-16. The Lady Lions maintained their lead with back to back three pointers from Kailen Shelton and Deven Burrow. Valley View battled back and took a 26-25 edge on Ashleigh Guthrie's three pointer at the 4:14 mark. The Lady Blazers increased their lead to 30-25 on a bucket by Allegra Melton, followed by a pair of Melton free throws. Taylor Harmon came off the bench to rip a three for Manila, slicing the Valley View lead to two, but Guthrie closed the half with a pair of charity tosses and a three pointer from deep in the left corner to give the Lady Blazers a 35-29 halftime advantage.
The third period belonged to Manila, as the Lady Lions buried five three pointers. Shelton and Burrow began the three point barrage with back to back triples to tie the game 35-35. Cook's five-foot floater, followed by a pair of Kirsten Adcock free throws and an offensive stick-back by Burrow, ended a 12-0 Manila run to begin the third quarter, giving the Lady Lions a 41-35 advantage at the 4:13 mark.
Burrow and Cook added back to back threes to push the Lion lead to 49-43 with 2:00 left in the quarter. Valley View connected on back to back buckets to slice the Manila lead to 49-47, but Burrow hit her third three point bomb of the quarter, giving the Lady Lions a 52-47 advantage heading into the fourth period.
Guthrie helped Valley View close to within one on back to back baskets to begin the fourth quarter, but Burrow drained her fifth three point bomb of the game to push the Manila lead back to four, 55-51. The Lady Blazers worked their way to the free throw line over the next three and a half minutes to stay close, and pulled even when Melton canned both ends of a one and one at the 2:56 mark, tying the game 60-60.
Taylor Teague threw in a 12-foot runner under pressure to put Manila back on top 62-60 with 2:39 left. Guthrie made one of two foul shots to pull Valley View to within one at the 1:48 mark before Cook's driving lay-up with 46 seconds left gave Manila a 64-61 advantage. Guthrie answered with a pull-up jumper inside the lane with just 34 ticks left on the clock to cut the Lady Lion lead to one, 64-63.
Manila failed to get the ball past the half court line and was called for a 10-second violation with 20 seconds left in the game, giving Valley View the ball back with a chance to win. Guthrie drove to the basket and was fouled with 12 seconds remaining. The junior sharpshooter made just one of two foul shots, and the game was tied 64 all.
Manila had one last shot to win in regulation, but Cook's attempt at the buzzer missed its mark, and the two teams headed to overtime.
Valley View took an early 66-64 lead in overtime on a power move by Melton. An Adcock free throw and a driving lay-in by Cook put the Lady Lions back on top 67-66. Cook hit again for Manila, this time after a Valley View miss, upping the Lady Lion advantage to 69-66 with 1:28 left in the extra period.
Guthrie brought Valley View back once more, completing a three point play with 1:14 showing on the clock, tying the game 69-69. Manila sandwiched a pair of free throws, one each by Shelton and Teague, around a Lady Blazer turnover, giving the Lady Lions a 71-69 edge at the 42 second mark. Guthrie struck again with a huge offensive stick-back with 10 seconds left, tying the game at 71 all, setting the stage for a frantic finish.
Cook took the inbounds pass and sprinted up the floor, but was met by Lady Blazer defenders just as the senior guard passed the half-court line. Valley View knocked the ball loose, Cook recovered and attempted to shoot but fell to the floor along with two other Lady Blazers as the buzzer went off. An official raced to the pile of players and whistled a foul on the Blazers, sending Cook to the free throw line for the double bonus with no time showing on the clock. The senior point guard calmly sank her first attempt, sending Lion fans into hysteria while Blazer fans voiced their displeasure.
Cook led Manila with 24 points while Burrow added 21 more. Shelton had 10 points and nine boards while Adcock scored nine points while snaring nine rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Teague and Harmon added three points apiece while Charlie Smith pitched in two. The Lady Lions connected on 18-28 foul shots and drilled nine three pointers.
Guthrie burned the nets for 37 points while grabbing nine rebounds to lead the Lady Blazers. Melton recorded a double-double with 15 points and 13 boards. Valley View hit 23-32 free throws and made four three pointers on the day.