Amazing come-from-behind victory for my Scholars Academy Eagles ... and now it’s on to the conference semifinals!
Playing without one of our starting guards, who is on a family trip this week, we only had eight players. And four of those girls ended up getting charged with four fouls each. Still, we overcame staunch opposition, plenty of our own mistakes and some horrendous officiating (and probably a little mediocre coaching) to score the game’s final 7 points and win by 2!
We were down by 5 with less than 4 minutes to go. Our 1-2-1-1 full-court press, which had been effective all game, really ramped up the pressure down the stretch. But what really decided the game – as it so often does in basketball – is that our girls finally started making some shots.
Celeste, our center, made a free throw. After a steal, Sienna, our power forward/point guard/do-everything girl, hit a layup. After another steal, Ritika, our diminutive 5th-grader – and the best shooter on the team – calmly swished a 17-foot jumper from the baseline to tie it with about a minute to go. Finally, Ritika stole a pass and made a layup with about 40 seconds left to put us ahead. We then survived a couple of late turnovers to hang on thanks to our defense and rebounding.
Phew! There were a couple times I thought I might have the big one – especially after the ref ignored an obvious 5-step travel on an opposing player and compounded the mess-up by calling a foul on us – but I lived to coach another game.
On Thursday, we play the top seed -- a team that defeated us twice, including once handily. But I’ve learned to never doubt the toughness and resilience of my girls. I know we won’t be out-worked or out-hustled. If we can make a few shots ... well ... as former MLB pitcher Joaquin Andujar famously said:
There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is, "You never know."