It sure appeared that the Sherwood High School girls basketball teams was going to let a win slip away.
The Lady Bowmen took a 29-18 lead into their Pacific Conference finale at Glencoe only to watch the Crimson Tide put together a furious rally and take the lead with less than a minute left to play.
But Sherwood's despair turned into jubilation, thanks to one big shot by senior Julia Leitzinger.
Leitzinger sank a 3-point basket from the right corner with just 13 seconds left to play, providing Sherwood with the winning margin in its 34-32 victory over Glencoe in the game played Feb. 27 at Glencoe High School.
"This is really, really big," Leitzinger said after the game. "On our Senior Night, we lost by one point (26-25 to Century on Feb. 21), and that was really a downer, and we knew that, in order to get a good playoff opponent, that we had to win this game, so we said we're not leaving this building without the 'W,' and that's what we did."
"It went really well," said Sherwood sophomore wing Mandie Jensen, who scored nine points in the victory. "We started off strong, then they made a run, but we pulled it back together and we finished it out at the end."
With the loss, Glencoe finished regular-season play with a 3-9 conference record (7-16 overall). Sherwood, which snapped a four-game losing streak with the win, finished conference play at 6-6 (12-12 overall), putting the Lady Bowmen in fourth place in the final Pacific Conference standings.
Sherwood, which is the No. 23 team in the final OSAA power rankings, will next open the Class 6A state playoffs on Tuesday with a first round contest with West Salem, starting at 7 p.m. at West Salem High School.
"We definitely needed some momentum going into the playoffs," Leitzinger said.
"We really needed this win going into the playoffs," Jensen said. "It as good to get some confidence going into the playoffs. And ending league on a win is really amazing."
But getting that win didn't come without some drama.
Both defenses ruled for most of the first half.
Jensen led the way for the Lady Bowmen in the first half with six points, helping Sherwood claim a 16-14 lead at the intermission.
But the Lady Bowmen started to take over in the third quarter. A pair of baskets by sophomore post Klaira Ray, both coming off assists by junior Joley Sproul, followed by a layup by Leitzinger, coming off a pass from Jensen, and a put-back basket by Ray, gave Sherwood a 24-15 lead with 3 minutes and 7 seconds left in the period.
The Lady Bowmen then ended the third with a 3-point basket by Jensen, coming off a kick-out pass from Ray, and a hoop on a 10-foot jumper by Leitzinger, giving Sherwood a seemingly safe 29-18 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
But Glencoe had other ideas.
The Crimson Tide got a pair of free throws from junior Bella Martinez and a follow-up hoop by junior Jayda Lee to open the final stanza. Then, after Ray scored on another put-back shot for Sherwood, Glencoe scored six straight points to trim the Bowmen lead to 31-28 with 2:28 left to play. Martinez was then fouled after coming up with a steal, and she made both of her ensuing free throws, making it a one-point game, at 31-30, with 53.4 seconds left to play.
Glencoe senior Jolanda Weisboeck then came up with a backcourt steal, leading to a Crimson Tide timeout with 49.1 seconds remaining. The turnover led to a running 6-foot jumper by Glencoe senior Mallory Confer, giving the Crimson Tide its first lead since the first five minutes of the game, at 32-31, with 41 seconds left to play.
But Sherwood, with its lead suddenly gone, didn't panic.
"We were thinking that we just have to get this back," Leitzinger said. "We can't leave without this 'W.' We have to stay calm, do what we need to do, go into motion, and something good will happen."
Sherwood, after working the ball around, got the possession to sophomore guard Laney Snelling near the top of the circle. Snelling then zipped the ball over to Leitzinger in the left corner. Leitzinger, with no hesitation, went up for the 3-pointer, with the ball hitting nothing but net, giving the Lady Bowmen a 34-32 lead with 13 seconds remaining.
"Oh boy, I kind of went blank for a little bit," Leitzinger said of the play. "I kind of went into a zone, and, when that ball came to me, I said, 'there's no way this isn't going in,' and it went up, and I washed it splash in, and I was like, 'yeah, that's good.' Laney Snelling had a nice assist. It was the biggest assist of the season."
"I was like, 'I hope this goes in,'" Jensen said. "It was in the moment, and Julia put it up there, put it in, and took all the pressure off."
Glencoe trying to answer back, got the ball downcourt, but the Bowmen defense slapped it away, with Jensen going to the floor to grab it with 3 seconds to play. Then, following a Sherwood timeout, the Bowmen ran off the rest of the time, and celebrated its dramatic victory.
"It felt so good. I was so hyped," Leitzinger said. "I felt a little bad, because I have have gotten a little disrespectful, but I was caught up in the moment. But I congratulated them (Glencoe), because they did a good job. Losing on Senior Night is tough. We were there. So I wanted to tell their seniors that they played really hard, and did so well."
"It was really fun," Jensen said. "Close games are always fun, and this was a good battle."
Ray led the Lady Bowmen in the win with 12 points. She also had six rebounds. Leitzinger had nine points, seven rebounds and three steals. Jensen had nine points, five rebounds and three steals. Senior Ava Boughey and Snelling each scored two points. Sproul had five rebounds and four assists.
Sherwood, as a team, made 16 of 48 shots from the field, with two 3-pointers.
"This was so much fun," Leitzinger said. "I don't think the smile is going to come off my face for the next few days."
Martinez led Glencoe with 13 points. Lee added eight, and senior Brianna Ball scored five for the Crimson Tide.
Glencoe, as a team, made 10 of 27 shots from the field, and 12 of 21 free-throw attempts.
West Salem, the No. 2 team out of the Mountain Valley Conference, and the No. 10 team in the OSAA power rankings, brings an overall record of 19-5 into Tuesday's state playoff game.
If the Lady Bowmen win at West Salem on Tuesday, they'll either host Lincoln, or play at Sheldon, in a Class 6A state playoff second-round game on Friday.
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