After winning a game in the girls 3A State basketball tournament for the first time in school history on Thursday, the Timberlake Tigers advanced to the finals Saturday afternoon and were 30 seconds away from winning the state title.
But Timberlake’s fortunes soured quickly as Sugar-Salem rallied to escape with a 48-44 overtime win to claim the championship at the Idaho Center in Nampa.
Timberlake (20-5) looked doomed with 26 seconds left in regulation. Leading scorer Cassie Thompson fouled out and Sugar-Salem (21-5) held a 39-36 lead.
But senior forward Caitlyn Nichols, who was scoreless in the first half, kept Timberlake’s hopes alive with an unlikely shot.
With the Tigers trailing 41-38 with 6 seconds remaining, Nichols had a 3-point shot rim in and out before the rebound ricocheted off a Sugar-Salem player’s fingertips with 3.9 seconds remaining.
Timberlake drew up an inbounds play for Nichols to get the ball to 3-point specialist Kara Wenstrom, but a pair of Sugar-Salem defenders blanketed Wenstrom.
Out of options and nearly out of time, Nichols hoisted a 3-point shot at the buzzer that banked off the glass and in to send the game into overtime.
“I definitely didn’t call, ‘Bank,’ ” Nichols said after the game. “I was trying to get the ball to Kara, but she was covered up so I just threw the ball up and started praying.”
Nichols got the answer she was looking for, but overtime was a different story.
Trailing 43-41 at the 2-minute mark of overtime, Nichols converted a three-point play to give Timberlake a 44-43 lead, its first lead since late in the first quarter.
After both teams came up empty on four straight possessions, Nichols appeared to have been fouled hard after grabbing a defensive rebound off an errant Sugar-Salem shot with 30 seconds remaining.
Officials allowed play to continue as Sugar-Salem wrestled the ball from Nichols and converted a layup.
“I hit the floor hard and people were all over me,” Nichols said. “But I didn’t get the call. It was disappointing, but we had plenty of other chances to win the game and shouldn’t have been in that situation.
“We just have to remember that we made school history by winning at state, and that’s the most important thing.”
4A: Abi Quinnett scored 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting and teammate Taylor Anderson added 11 points and 10 rebounds as the Moscow Bears (11-16) rallied from a seven-point deficit to edge the Rigby Trojans (23-2) 36-35 in a consolation title game at Timberline HS in Boise.
3A: The Priest River Spartans (15-11) gave up a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter but edged the Fruitland Grizzlies (14-10) 36-35 in a consolation title game at Skyview HS in Nampa. Liz Halcro had 12 points for the Spartans.