Northwest Christian’s lone senior, forward Chanel Knight, made a layup with 3.2 seconds left to give the host Crusaders a 33-32 victory and the outright Northeast 2B girls basketball championship on Friday night.
“That’s her senior leadership right there,” said NWC coach Talara Frost. “She’s been like that throughout the year. When we need it most she digs deep and finds a way to do it. I couldn’t ask for a better player to have the ball in her hands right then.”
The Crusaders (18-0, 12-0) have two league games remaining. Their closest pursuers, Colfax and Lind-Ritzville/Sprague, each have three losses.
NWC led 11-3 at the end of the first quarter thanks to an 11-0 run. Knight was forced to the bench early when she picked up her third foul in the first quarter.
But even with Knight on the bench for the entire second quarter, the Bulldogs (13-5, 9-3) were able to close the gap by only a point despite outscoring the Crusaders 5-2 over the first 5-plus minutes of the period.
NWC stymied Colfax’s modest run thanks to junior guard Treasure Farmer hitting a layup and sophomore guard Rachel Bozlee nailing a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions to push the lead to 10. The Crusaders went into the half ahead 18-11.
Senior forward Nicole Sheer scored eight of her 14 points and forced a handful a turnovers in the third quarter as Colfax took its first lead since the first quarter, 23-22, with just over a minute left in the third period.
Junior guard Melissa Guske put the Crusaders back in front with a 3-pointer late in the quarter, which ended with NWC up 25-23.
“That’s the nice thing with these girls,” Frost said. “They’re multifaceted. On any given night somebody picks up the pieces when they need to and make those shots when they have to.”
Colfax and Northwest Christian traded baskets, ties and leads for the entirety of the fourth period.
With 1:11 left in the game, junior forward Courtney Gray made a free throw to give the Crusaders a brief 31-30 lead.
Colfax forward Amara Huber gave the lead back to the Bulldogs when she backed down her defender and scooped in a layup with 40 seconds left.
With just over 10 seconds remaining, Farmer raced the ball up the court and passed to Courtney Gray in the paint. Gray found Knight down low and she made one of her few chances of the night count.
“That’s what she means to this team,” Frost said. “She can come in after being on the bench for most of the game with four fouls and pop right in to make a layup and win the game.”