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LARGO — Given the choice, Kasey Howard would have passed the ball. Or dribbled it. Maybe even called a timeout.
But with time winding down and Calvary Christian trailing by three points, Howard had no choice but to shoot. Standing just behind the 3-point line with two seconds left in regulation, Howard’s shot swished through the net to tie Sickles 46-46.
In overtime, the Warriors made key free throws to defeat the Gryphons 59-54 and advance to the Indian Rocks Christian Holiday Tournament final against Harmony.
“I had to just get off a shot,” Howard said. “It was the last chance we had. I haven’t been shooting the ball well at all this season. It was just kind of luck.”
Howard’s 3-pointer was her only field goal of the game. While it was certainly clutch, it wasn’t the only reason Calvary Christian (13-1) was able to stay alive.
Senior Caroline Andreassen had a game-high 23 points, including four 3s. Freshman Carley Plentovich added 12 points and twin Savannah had nine points, seven of which came on free throws.
“I thought this was an outstanding team effort,” Warriors coach Brooke Sibert said. “I have confidence in all my players. We practice late-game situations in every practice. They all have different strengths, and I’m confident they will come through.”
It took the first quarter for both teams to settle down. There were numerous turnovers and the teams combined to shoot 14 free throws. In the second quarter, Calvary Christian seemed to take charge when it took a 20-14 lead thanks in part to a Carley Plentovich 3.
The lead bounced back and forth much of the second half. After taking a 44-43 lead with 25 seconds left, Sickles (14-4) forced a turnover. With 13 seconds left, Cassidy O’Brien was fouled and calmly hit both free throws to make it 46-43.
Calvary was able to break the Sickles press, then find Howard open for her game tying shot.
In overtime, the teams traded baskets before the Warriors went on a 4-0 run to get some breathing room. Savannah and Carley Plentovich hit clutch free throws during the run to put the game away.
Jana Henson led Sickles with 19 points. Hartman added 13.
Also of note, East Lake junior Amber Jennings reached 1,000 career points in the Eagles’ 44-40 loss to host IRC.
And Osceola sophomore Katie Horan made five 3-pointers against Tenoroc and now has 19 in her past three games. She already had broken the school record for 3s in a season (40) and her total is now 46.