As a once-safe lead melted away in the fourth quarter, Van Horn’s Lexi Robinson could see her teammates getting a little hot under the collar.
“We were yelling at each other, we were arguing with each other,” Robinson said. “We just had to buckle down and calm down.”
This didn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the Falcon girls were opening their season and hadn’t faced, or expected, the high-pressure situation Raytown South put them in Wednesday night.
But once they got grip, the Falcons found a way to survive Ray-South’s pressure, missed layups, free throws and a long scoring drought to pull out a 43-38 overtime victory in the opening round of the Van Horn Invitational.
Van Horn appeared in control when it opened up a 15-point lead early in the third quarter, popping 3-pointers over the Cardinals’ zone defense. But when Ray-South (0-2) switched to a pressing, trapping man-to-man in the fourth quarter, things suddenly got interesting.
Van Horn led 30-21 after three quarters, but the Falcons managed only four points in the final period. Ray-South press produced six turnovers, and the Falcons missed the front end of three one-and-ones over the final four minutes of regulation.
Ray-South, meanwhile, closed the quarter with a 9-0 run. Nyla Frazier, the Cardinals’ leading scorer with 12 points, hit a layup with seven seconds left for a 34-34 tie.
“When they went from zone to man to zone, we didn’t know what they were in, so it kind of confused us,” Robinson said. “So that rattled us a little bit. But we adjusted and got better.”
Robinson, who led Van Horn with 18 points, made a putback in the opening seconds of overtime that put Van Horn back up for good. Daisy Washington, who had 13 points, added a 3-pointer and Robinson made 3 of 4 free throws down the stretch.
“Lexi’s going to be a really good player for us,” Van Horn coach AB Lennox said. “We know we have to get the ball in her hands because she can really score and she made some good decisions.”
Robinson had the answer to Ray-South’s zone in the second quarter, hitting three 3-pointers as the Falcons took a 22-15 lead into halftime. Washington popped two threes starting the third quarter in an 8-0 that put the Falcons up 30-15.
Washington’s second three, which came with 4:29 left in the period, would be the Falcons’ last basket until midway through the fourth quarter.
“We knew they were going to apply pressure, we just needed to get ourselves in the right situations,” Lennox said. “I thought if we executed we could have handled pressure a little better, but hey, we’re glad to get a win.”
The win put Van Horn in the semifinals, where it will face Center 7 p.m. Friday night. Center advanced with a 39-30 win over Pembroke Hill.