Both Grace Christian Academy and Meigs County had trouble capitalizing on misses or turnovers late in the Region 2-A girls’ basketball championship game Wednesday night.
However, Lady Ram senior Lauren Hensley finally did in the final second to give Grace a 56-55 victory.
But she took advantage of her own miss, not a turnover from Meigs.
With 10 seconds left, she was given the ball, shot it, missed it, and shot it again. This time, the ball went into the goal.
“When it fell out, I thought it was over,” the tournament MVP and Johnson University signee said after the students had swarmed the Wartburg Central court in Morgan County in celebration. “But I just knew I had to get the board if it went out.”
For Meigs County, the loss was heart breaking.
“Yes, it’s devastating,” said Lady Tiger coach Jason Powell. “I thought we put ourselves in position to win, and I thought it was a good game by both teams. We just happened to come up on the short end of the stick.”
Grace coach Paul Pridemore said he thought Meigs might be in a zone defense on the last-second play, but they were in man-to-man.
“We just spread it out and told Lauren to go to the basket,” he said. “She has done that all year.”
Hensley’s heroics had come after a Grace timeout and following a block by teammate Catherine Griffith when Meigs tried to score and go up by three.
And that play had come after a missed free throw for the tie by Hensley, a steal by each team and an over-and-back call against Meigs – all in about the last minute and 20 seconds.
With the win, Grace (21-9) will host North Greene in the sectional on Saturday, while Meigs (30-4) will travel to Cloudland.
While Hensley had a second chance, so did the entire Grace team, as the Lady Rams trailed by as much as 13 late in the first half and appeared to be losing opportunities before starting a slow and steady second-half comeback.
“We were fighting all night,” said Pridemore. “Our girls showed a lot of guts and a lot of determination. We just had to keep playing.”
Powell was congratulatory toward Grace after the game.
“I wish them the best. They are a class act,” he said. “Our attention is turned toward Cloudland.”
Hensley led Grace with 16 points, while Griffith had 14 and Sydney Duggins added 13. Meigs was led by Emileigh Swafford’s 18 points and Taylor Boggess’ 14.