NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — With the game tied at 44-44, and only a couple seconds left on a running clock, Springfield Tigers junior guard Callie Ford threw the ball up.
As the buzzer went off, the ball banked in for a game-winning three-point shot. The Tigers home crowd erupted and Ford was immediately mugged by her team mates.
“I just shot it up as fast I could, hoping it would go in and it did,” Ford said. “As soon as I got the ball I looked up at the clock to make sure I had enough time and where I had to take it. Then I took the shot.”
It was the only three-point shot the Tigers would hit all night as they went 1 for 15 from behind the arc.
“Normally we are,” Ford said of her team’s effectiveness at hitting 3’s. “Kennedy Richey is pretty good three point shooter, and I normally make more than that, but we had other people scoring for us which definitely helped. We made the last one when it counted.”
The game winning shot was all set up by a steal by the Tigers senior forward Jillian Tabaka after the Tigers had tied the game with 13-seconds remaining on a Baylee Felger bucket. The South Range Raiders then called a timeout at mid-court with 10 seconds left to set up a game-winning attempt for themselves.
“The play by Jill Tabaka to get the steal, to throw it ahead and have the where with all and game presence to make a shot with time ticking off was awesome,” Tigers coach Jim Schuler said. “We just talked we need to stay in front of our people, whoever you are guarding. We thought they might run one set that they have been familiar with and we just said hey no fouls to put them on the line. With ten seconds we needed a big stop. She (Tabaka) stepped up and got a big steal. We still had six, seven left on the clock, it gave us a chance.”
“We botched that last attempt up,” Raiders coach Tony Matisi said. “What we wanted to do was to get Starla (Sharp) down by the elbow and get her the ball. And have Ash (Sharp) come were it was a two-man game, but they sagged on it and made Starla come out and get the ball. But Ash had no where to go. It wasn’t very clean there at the end.”
The Raiders led throughout most of the contest, but never by more than six points. That came with 6:22 remaining in the third quarter when Morgan Czopur converted two free throws. But the Tigers kept whittling away at the Raiders lead, and finally tied the game at 34-34 at the end of the third quarter on a two free throws by Felger.
That set up the exciting fourth quarter that would see seven lead changes including the final basket by Ford. It appeared that the Raiders would pull out the game with 43 seconds remaining when Czopur and Jordan Youngs converted three free throws to put the Raiders up 43-40. But a bucket by Ford with 33-second left, a free throw by Ashley Sharp of the Raiders, and then Felger’s basket with 13.7 seconds left the game knotted at 44.
“It was a total team finish,” Schuler said. “We talk about it all the time. We just talked about it tonight. You play to the last tick of the clock. I knew we always had a chance, it was just a matter of making a play. We had a bunch of people step up when we needed them to. We executed a set and got a bucket to tie the game. We missed a few free throws down the stretch, But what was key was getting that stop with ten seconds to go.”
“What a great game,” Matisi said. “You can’t beat big games, and you try to tell twelve crying girls that there aren’t many girls that get to play in something like this. You got to step back and enjoy it a little bit.”
“It tied us for the league so we just have to win the rest of our games and then we can win the league title,” Ford said.
Felger lead the Tigers with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Ford and Richey each scored 12 points. Ford also dished out five assists.
The Raiders were led by Czopur, who recorded 13 points in the contest.
With the win, the Tigers improve to 13-2 overall and 8-1 in the league and will play at United Monday night. The Raiders drop to 13-2, and 9-1 in the league and will host Beaver Local Saturday afternoon.
The Raiders won the J-V game by a 59-37 score with Lynnie Ritter of the Raiders recording a game-high 18 points, while Markie Gabriel of the Raiders added 13, and Kasey Kohler netted 12 for the Tigers.