TAMPA — Brooks DeBartolo had made all but two free throws, scoring more than a third of its total points from the line. But up by just two with less than a minute to play in Tuesday’s Class 3A region semifinal, Phoenix point guard Triniti Youngblood missed a pair of would-be game-sealing free throws, and Carrollwood Day forward Aryana Dizon hit a jumper on the other end to tie the score.
Brooks DeBartolo got the ball back with just under nine seconds left on the clock. Coach Ellie Wilbur knew exactly who should get the ball.
“(She’s) our spark plug,” Wilbur said about Amarie Godwin, a 5-foot-2 senior point guard. “Everyone talks about how small she is, but she plays big, man. She plays big.”
In those final seconds, Godwin was her biggest.
When play resumed, the Phoenix set a quick screen, and Godwin had an easy jumper as time expired, delivering the 58-56 victory and knocking off the defending 3A state champion Patriots. Brooks DeBartolo senior forward Brionna McClinton led all scorers with 18 points, while Carrollwood Day’s Milahnie Perry chipped in 14.
For much of the game, it appeared as though Carrollwood Day might survive to play for yet another title.
From the beginning, a stifling Patriots defense kept Brooks DeBartolo from getting many scoring chances inside, and when the Phoenix shot, they were often hurried jumpers. Still, Brooks DeBartolo (16-5) capitalized on Carrollwood Day turnovers to stay in the game, and with just seconds left in the opening half it was tied at 24.
The Patriots were 2-of-6 from the line in the second quarter, but at the first-half buzzer, Perry was fouled on a basket, and she converted the three-point play to take a 3-point lead into the break.
For most of the second half, Carrollwood Day (14-5) never trailed.
“I think they kind of sped us up a little bit, more than we wanted to. We wanted to play fast, but we wanted to play fast at times,” Wilbur said. “I think they did a nice job of making us take contested shots.”
Carrollwood Day led by as many as seven points early in the second half, but with less than a minute left in the third, Godwin had a steal and easy layup to tie the score. She’d do the exact same thing in the fourth quarter to give Brooks DeBartolo the lead until the end.
Turnovers kept the Patriots from maintaining the momentum, and at the line, the Phoenix just couldn’t miss, finishing the game 21-of-25. For her part, Godwin was 7-of-8 from the line with 13 total points.
But there was no doubting where her biggest impact was felt, keeping Brooks DeBartolo alive to tell the tale.
“I get underestimated a lot because I’m shorter than your average player. But I try to work harder than the average player,” Godwin said. “I try to do everything I can, do the little things. Sometimes people don’t execute the little things.
“I try to do everything I can just to be the best.”