When Plant clanked six straight free throws and saw its lead shrink to five in the final minute Saturday of the district final against Jefferson, Panthers coach Carrie Mahon didn't panic.
"I told the girls before the game that what we are isn't on paper," Mahon said. "With us, it's about heart. I knew they wouldn't let it go."
They didn't. In the final 56 seconds, the Panthers, benefitting greatly from two Jefferson turnovers, outscored the Dragons 6-0 to earn a 50-39 win. With it, Plant (23-4) not only earned a championship but will have a first-round playoff game at home Thursday night. The Panthers will enter the postseason riding an 11-game win streak.
"Lately," Plant forward Kaitlyn Ostroski said, "we have absolutely refused to lose."
For Jefferson (17-11), it was a frustrating defeat because the Dragons certainly had their chances.
"I thought it was there for us," coach Tom Mosca said. "They couldn't put us away the way they wanted to, but we beat ourselves with our shots."
A poor start didn't help. Plant built a 13-2 lead early, but behind guards Jade Givens (12 points) and Atavia Blake (10 points), Jefferson slowly fought its way back. Midway through the third, the Dragons had two chances to tie or take the lead but missed shots both times.
Sparked by guard Michelle Taylor, who scored a game-high 21, and guard Ganice Macho, Plant took control.