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Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic freshman point guard Noelle Mannen drives to the basket against three Banks defenders in the first quarter of Valleys loss on Friday.


Noelle Mannen’s last-gasp, half-court heave had a chance.

After the Banks girls basketball team left the door slightly ajar by missing two free throws with three seconds left in overtime and ahead by 46-43, Valley Catholic’s freshman guard grabbed the rebound, took a quick glance up at the clock and spun upcourt.

Looking for the equalizer, Mannen took two dribbles and flung a missile from just behind the halfcourt line that at first glance seemed destined for either the rim or at least the backboard and maybe a lucky bounce off the window.

Alas, the skyrocketing missile hit the left side of the glass and caromed away, leaving Valley with a 46-43 overtime home loss on Friday night.

Yet Mannen’s gallant attempt seemed to mark a fitting end for Valley’s labor. Mannen put everything she had into that full-scale cast, just as the Valiants did against the Braves, despite playing without one of their best post players in Bailey McDevitt.

The shot may have come up just shy — as did the Valiants — but at the end of the day, it was the team’s effort for five quarters, it was coming back from a fourth quarter deficit to force overtime that had Valley excited for the season’s upcoming stretch run.

“We had to play our guts out and I think we did,” said Valley senior wing Kaylynn Bush. “We work hard and we live for those moments. We never give up. All that blood and sweat you saw was us going 100 percent. I think we’ve connected a lot more and we’re learning more about each other.”

“That was a really fun game to play in,” said Mannen. “That’s what basketball is all about. Those are the best games to play in. We know what we’re capable of and we know we’ll never give up.”

The back-and-forth contest seemed to be slipping away from Valley in the fourth period after Banks went on a 7-0 run to seize a 38-31 lead with just under three minutes remaining. But Maddie Vinson banked home a layup, and Mannen pickpocketed Banks’ point guard and passed ahead to Bush in transition for two to make it 38-35.

Valley came up empty the next two times down the floor, but the Braves missed the front end of one-and-one scenarios twice, giving the Valiants a crack at tying it, still down three with less than a minute to go. Mannen hit Bush on a backdoor cut, but since the southpaw didn’t have an open look, she drove the baseline and flipped it out to Emily McLeod spotting up for a three-pointer. Free to fire from the right angle, McLeod released a high-arching three that found nothing but net to tie the contest 38-38 with 33 seconds left.

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic senior wing Kaylynn Bush tries to create space underneath the hoop against Banks.

“She shot the rock like she normally does and hit it,” said Bush of McLeod. “It felt good, too. Hard work pays off.”

With 19 seconds left in the fourth, Valley’s strangling defense forced the Braves out near midcourt to run out the clock still deadlocked at 38-38.

Trailing 43-40 with 57 seconds left in overtime, Bush splashed a game-tying “three” from the left wing, then caused a Banks double-dribble violation to give the ball back to Valley. But Valley turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, and Banks responded with a backdoor cut for a hoop, foul and three-point play to go up 46-43.

Bush was called for a moving screen with four seconds left, before Banks’ misses at the line and Mannen’s off-target aerial ended the contest.

Bush said it took a while for Valley to build up to its all-out level of play after McDevitt was knocked out for the rest of the contest with a facial injury in the first minute of action. But, as the game opened up and the action took off and the referees swallowed their whistles, the battle-tested Valiants huddled together during breaks in the action and kept the game’s tone positive.

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic senior post Maddie Vinson lunges after a loose ball in the first quarter of the Valiants loss to Banks on Friday.

“We did a really good job of sticking together,” said Mannen. “We pumped each other up and picked each other up when we were down.”

Bush noted that Valley has shown glimpses of playing hard and together for a full game, but never really pieced it together until the Banks contest.

“We had no choice but to keep our heads up tonight,” said Bush. “Sometimes we get our heads down after a bad play, but we played through the downs and got to the highs. Once you have a negative, there’s always a positive out of it. In order to win, we have to play 100 percent for the entire 32 minutes.”

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