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Late lead falls through Sandys fingers

Wilson storms back in the final three minutes to survive a postseason scare


by: SANDY POST: DAVID BALL - Sandy coach Ryan Alexander implores his team from the sideline, while the bench celebrates a lead that grew to seven points in the fourth quarter. PORTLAND — Sandy was the last team to qualify for the 5A girls basketball play-in round, and the Pioneers were poised to make the most of their opportunity. The Pioneers built a seven-point lead with less than five minutes to play only to see Wilson rush back and claim the 37-34 win.

After trading the lead through much of the middle stages of play, the Pioneers went up 21-20 when Sofia Remsburg put in a 3-pointer off the glass. Sandy nearly extended the margin at the buzzer when Brooke McAllester saw two defenders blocking her path at the half-court line, forcing her to stop and make a long heave that was on target only to hit the back of the rim and pop out.

The Pioneers would grow their lead early in the fourth quarter when guard Molly Nutt lost her defender at the top of the key and sent a perfect pass over the top to Raquel Pellecer, who simply had to turn to the hoop for an easy two.

On the team’s next trip down court Pellecer got loose underneath and converted a three-point play. The Pioneers found themselves up 30-23 as the clock slipped under five minutes.

Sandy had a golden chance to add some points when it got loose on a 2-on-1 fastbreak, but Wilson guard Veronica Rivers chased the play down from behind and intercepted a pass under the basket. She zipped the other way and swished a pull-up jumper near the free-throw line, cutting the gap to 30-27 and prompting Sandy to call timeout with 3:29 to play.

Sandy struggled to hang onto the ball down the stretch with several cross-court passes resulting in costly turnovers.

Wilson moved in front 33-32 when Rivers ripped the net with a 3-pointer from the left side with 1:30 to play.

“I was open and it was just good basketball I.Q. to take the shot,” Rivers said. “I was just hoping I had the right technique to make the shot. When it went through it felt amazing.”

After a Sandy miss at the other end, it was the Pioneers who went into desperation mode needing to foul to get the ball back. They fouled the wrong person. Rivers was hacked across the arms and walked to the free-throw line with 0:56 on the clock.

Her routine was simple. One dribble and let the foul shot fly. Both attempts swished through cleanly, putting the Trojans up by three.

Sandy searched for a tying long-ball attempt on its next possession, but with Wilson guarding the arc it took precious time to find an open shot. Almost 40 seconds ticked away before the Pioneers lofted a deep try from a couple steps behind the line.

The shot sailed wide of the mark.

Wilson grabbed the rebound, and Alexa Hinkley converted both foul shots at the other end to put the game out of reach.

The Trojans finished the game on a 14-4 run.

Wilson went on to beat Summit 60-55 in the state playoffs to earn a spot in this week’s 5A quarterfinals in Eugene.

Wilson broke out to a 12-5 lead early in the second period, beating Sandy’s zone defense when Rivers knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.

Sandy came back behind Pellecer, who scored all eight of the team’s points in the quarter. She started the scoring spree with a putback underneath, followed by a three-point play on a spin to the hoop. A series of made free throws brought Sandy even 13-13 at the half.

Sandy went ahead briefly after Pellecer fought her way to the basket on the team’s opening possession of the second half. She led the Pioneers with 21 points.

View a photo gallery from Tuesday’s qualifier game at daveball.exposuremanager.com.