East misses game-tying shot, falls 44-41 (w/gallery, video)
Dec. 17, 2013 at 6:17 a.m.
Victoria West's Mercedes Ellison came back into a close game with four minutes left to play and four fouls.
Ellison wanted to make sure she was there for the rest of the game to help her fellow Warriors.
"Coach (Sandra Jimenez) was saying you've got to play good defense and not make stupid fouls," the junior said. "It was big motivation to me. I got to do what the coach tells me because it will help me out in the long run."
Ellison scored 2 of her 10 points in the fourth quarter to help West (13-3, 2-0) defeat the Lady Titans 44-41. Jada Whitby attempted a three-point shot at the buzzer that would have tied the game for the Warriors, but the shot didn't connect.
West maintained the lead for much of the game, but its lead began to dwindle in the closing seconds of the third quarter. A three-point play by East's Anne Wozniak cut West's lead to 34-30 at the end of the third quarter.
The Lady Titans (7-10, 1-2) would bring the game to within one point a few minutes into the fourth quarter.
Jimenez, the Warriors' coach, later made a choice that could have hurt or helped her team's chances of winning.
"When we put her (Ellison) back in, (we said) 'If there's any shot taken near you, don't even try to contest it," Jimenez said. "We tried to keep Mercedes in the game for 32 minutes, but when we have to pull her out, we want to for very little."
Senior Allyson Dlouhy knew without Elllison on the court, she had to make defensive plays. It was an opportunity she welcomed.
"She's (Ellison's) our shot blocker, and when she has four fouls, she takes that risk of getting fouled out," Dlouhy said. "So I step in and take the charges instead."
Though trailing most of the game, East coach Yulonda Wimbish-North was glad to see her team stay in the game to the end.
"I think there were times we had two people working hard defensively; other people doing other things," Wimbish-North said. "So we said, 'Hey, collectively, we have got to be on one court defensively,' and I think they stepped it up. In the second half, we played much better defense."
The Warriors, like East, made plays away from the ball when they needed to. Dlouhy said the excitement of wanting to get the victory over the rival came in to play.
"We started turning the ball over, making dumb passes," Dlouhy said. "We had the lead. Our slogan is 'fight till the end,' and that's what we did."