Ashley Banks’ shot hopped around the rim as the final horn went off. In the silence as both teams watched, the ball wobbled through the net.
As it did, Banks’ Cross Creek teammates grabbed her, and the South Effingham Lady Mustangs walked off forlornly, as the Lady Razorbacks defeated them 40-38 Tuesday afternoon in the Region 3-AAA playoffs.
“There was nothing for them to hang their heads about,” South Effingham basketball coach Stacey Womack said of her team. “They played as hard as they could. They played well enough to win.”
As Banks’ putback attempt dangled on the rim, Womack thought, “Please, God, don’t let it go in.”
But the shot capped a frantic comeback for the Lady Razorbacks, who trailed by six points with 6 minutes to play and were down by two with 1:08 to go.
Iesha Little was fouled on a 3-point shot with 21.6 seconds remaining, after the Lady Mustangs were whistled for a backcourt violation. Little hit the first two free throws, but the Lady Razorbacks knocked away a pass with 10 seconds left, leading to the fast break that resulted in Banks’ game-winner.
Ciara Knowles gave the Lady Mustangs a 38-36 lead with 1:08 to go and got the ball back when Jasmine Toole missed a 3-point try and the rebound caromed out of bounds off two Lady Razorbacks. That preceded the over-and-back call against South Effingham.
Candice Kennedy’s basket with 6:04 remaining put South Effingham in front 33-27. Little answered by banking in a 3, and Banks got a steal and layup to cut the gap to 33-32 with 3:55 to go. Iesha Reese countered with a 3 off an inbounds pass from Katie Durrence.
The six-point lead was the largest for either team in the game. No team had more than six-point run, with Little keying a 6-0 spurt late in the second quarter with an assist and back-to-back baskets to give the Lady Razorbacks an 18-15 lead. It was Cross Creek’s biggest lead of the game.
The game was tied three times in the third quarter before Layne Graf’s 3-pointer snapped a 25-25 deadlock with 1:38 left in the period. Little’s drive with 1:22 to go tied the game again, but it wasn’t until Banks’ basket at the buzzer that the Lady Razorbacks led in the fourth quarter.
Little led all scorers with 14 points. Toole had 11 points and Banks finished with eight.
Katie Durrence led South Effingham with nine points. Knowles had eight points, Kennedy scored seven, Reese added five, Graf had three and Whitney Jones and Katherine Perrin each had two points.
Cross Creek (12-12) advances to meet No. 1-ranked Hephzibah. South Effingham finishes the season at 8-19.
“We did everything we could do in the last week to prepare for this game,” Womack said. “They worked hard. We executed well. It just wasn’t meant to be.
“But it’s been a great season. We accomplished a lot.”