The Blue Springs South High School girls Wednesday afternoon practice session ended around 5:30 p.m.
But Elizabeth Ernsting and coach Kory Lower left the South gym around 6:30.
"It's like that every practice," Lower said after Ernsting hit two late free throws that gave the Jaguars a 47-45 lead that paved the way to a 51-45 home victory over visiting Park Hill Thursday night. "She and Lauren Gillig are usually the last two to leave. Looks like that kind of dedication paid off tonight."
With 2:07 left in a 45-45 deadlock in the Suburban Big Six matchup, Ernsting swished her two free throw attempts. The Jaguars defense then took over as the Trojans did not score a point over the final two minutes.
"Lauren and I always stay after and shoot free throws," said Ernsting, who says she shoots between 75 and 100 extra free throws. "I went up to the line feeling confident because I shoot so many free throws. You never know when you're going to need to make some big free throws late in a game and I want to be ready."
Ernsting, who finished with nine points, was ready. So was her teammate, Logan Abernathy, who hit three late free throws to help the Jaguars maintain their lead.
"I didn't shoot as well tonight as would have liked to," said Abernathy, who hit three of her final four attempts from the line after starting 1 of 6, "but when we really needed them at the end I was able to walk to the line, close my eyes and clear my head, take a deep breath and hit those free throws."
There was a time early in the game when it didn't seem like late free throws would be necessary, as the Jaguars got off to a 13-0 lead.
The Trojans did not score a basket until Teresa Thomas hit a jump shot at 2:34 of the first quarter.
"I was happy with our start tonight," Lower said, "but I have so much respect for Aaron Neeser as a coach and as a person and I knew his kids would come back."
South led 31-21 at halftime before the Trojans narrowed it to 40-35 after three quarters.
Jayden Dorrell's jumper and two free throws gave the Trojans their first lead, 41-40, with 5:41 left in the fourth quarter.
"We didn't panic or get nervous, we just started playing better basketball," said freshman guard Seneea Bevley, who scored a game-high 21 points on the strength of five 3-pointers in her first varsity start.
Seconds after Dorrell gave her team the lead, Abernathy hit a shot jump shot and Bevley followed with her final 3-point basket of the night for a 45-42 lead.
"Once we got the lead, we worked hard offensively and defensively to hold it," said Bevley, a 5-foot-6 guard. "This was a big team win, because all the girls who played helped us win. We got off to the good start, and then didn't play as well as we had been playing, but we played a strong fourth quarter to get the win."
Gillig finished with 11 points to help the Jaguars improve to 6-5 overall and 2-0 in the conference.
Anisha Vondenkamp led the Trojans with 14 points.