Taylor Lipps couldn’t look.
Warrensburg’s Jalisa Lewis stood at the free-throw line with no time showing on the Grain Valley High School scoreboard and the score tied at 42.
Taylor Lipps couldn’t look.
Warrensburg’s Jalisa Lewis stood at the free-throw line with no time showing on the Grain Valley High School scoreboard in a 42-all tie in the Class 4 District 14 semifinal contest.
Lewis had just hit a game-tying layup, and if she connected on her free throw, the season would come to an end for Lipps and her Grain Valley teammates.
Her free throw lipped the rim and fell harmlessly to the floor.
The game was going into overtime.
“If she would have made that free throw,” said Lipps, who scored seven of her game-high 25 points in overtime to lead the Eagles to a 49-45 victory Wednesday night, “I would have had a heart attack and just collapsed on the gym floor. They would have had to have called Life Flight to come save me.”
Lipps and the Eagles made one of the most remarkable comebacks in coach Steve Broughton’s career – which spans a highly successful run as the boys coach at Truman High School.
“I’ve been coaching a long, long time,” Broughton said after his team improved to 19-7 and advanced to the 6 p.m. championship game against Odessa, “but I don’t know if I’ve ever coached a team with that type of grittiness and guttiness.
“I don’t even know if guttiness is a word, but it fits the way the girls played tonight. We didn’t do much the first half, but they made up for it the second half.”
Grain Valley had more turnovers than Crayola has colors in the first half, but tightened some things up at halftime and roared back behind a brilliant performance by Lipps and the Eagles.
“One thing that helped was a very inspirational speech by our coach at halftime,” said guard Ashley Bundren, who was just 3 of 8 from the line but sealed the win with a free throw with just nine seconds left in the overtime to give the Eagles a four-point lead. “He let us know he was disappointed, but that he still believed in us. And that’s what we needed to hear.”
Grain Valley trailed 32-22 with 1:41 to go in the third quarters. That’s when Lipps hit a big 3-pointer that cut the deficit to single digits for the first time since the first period.
“Tay’s 3-pointer gave us life,” guard Whitney Broughton said. “When she hit that three, it was like, ‘Come on, we’re back in the game!’”
The Eagles outscored the Tigers 13-9 in the third quarters and 12-8 in the fourth quarters. Broughton hit a running layup with 28 seconds left in regulation to give Grain Valley a 41-40 lead.
Bundren then hit one of two free throws to make it 42-40 with 12 seconds left. That set the stage of Lewis’ layup and missed free throw.
In overtime, Lewis hit a 3-pointer to knot the score at 45, but Lipps hit 5 of 6 free throws, Whitney Broughton and Bundren each hit a free throw and Paige Mead, who fouled Lewis in regulation, grabbed five overtime rebounds, to account for the final margin of victory.
“I’m exhausted,” Lipps said as she sat in the hallway outside of the gym. “I may need someone to carry me out of here. But I’ll be ready Friday night – I guarantee you that.”