The Lady Sand Devils improved their record to 3-3 after Saturday’s dramatic overtime win against Window Rock.
A jump shot from Jade Reid gave the Sand Devils its first points of the game, which the Fighting Scouts promptly followed with a field goal and a three-pointer of their own. A few plays later, an errant Scouts’ pass skipped through the hands of a Window Rock player and was about to pass across the half-court line for a backcourt violation. The Window Rock player didn’t bother chasing down the pass, but ever-alert Miquedah Taliman scooped up the ball and drove it to the other end of the court for an uncontested basket, which tied the game at five.
By the end of the first quarter, Window Rock had built a 13-7 lead.
Three minutes into the second quarter, the Lady Sand Devils had fallen 11 points behind, but they then went on an impressive 10 to 2 run. The score at halftime read Window Rock 22, Page 19.
But in the opening minutes of the third quarter, Window Rock returned the favor, going on a big scoring run of their own. With 1:40 left in the third quarter, they had built a 10-point lead. Taliman hit a field goal, a free throw and a three-pointer in the quarter’s final minute to get her team within six points of the Scouts, setting the stage for the game’s very exciting fourth quarter.
Most of the fourth quarter scoring, for both teams, occurred at the free throw line.
The Sand Devils could have retaken the lead in the early part of the quarter, but on back-to-back occasions, its players missed the front end of a one-and-one. On a third free throw attempt, the Sand Devils hit just one of two free throws.
With the Sand Devils trailing by four points with 2:10 left in regulation, Keira Jenkins hit three of four free throw attempts on back-to-back possessions, which reduced the Scouts’ lead to one with 1:27 left on the clock.
The Sand Devils then played 10 seconds of the best defense it has played all year. The Sand Devils pressured the Fighting Scouts ball handlers from the moment they inbounded the pass.
The ball handler got past the half-court line but could penetrate no farther and couldn’t find any open players to pass to, which resulted in a five-second violation and a turnover.
With 32 seconds remaining, the Scouts fouled Arianna Jenkins, sending her to the free throw line, where she hit one of two shots to tie the game at 38.
In the final possession of the fourth quarter, a Scouts’ player drew a foul and had a chance to win the game from the free throw line. But she missed both shots, and the clock expired, sending the game into overtime.
Overtime belonged to Taliman.
She stole a pass and returned it for two points. Two plays later she hit a jump shot and was fouled in the process. She added another point from the free throw line. On the next possession, she pulled down an offensive rebound and put it back in for the score.
The Sand Devils defense held the Scouts scoreless for the first 90 seconds of the four-minute overtime, built a seven-point lead and transitioned into a four corners offense to eat time off the clock.
The Scouts offense began putting points on the board, but with 22 seconds remaining they still trailed by four points. Then, to the horror of the Sand Devils’ fans, the Scouts stole the ball on two consecutive inbound passes. Both steals occurred beneath their own basket, and both times the Scouts put the ball in the hoop. In a matter of six seconds, they went from a four-point deficit to tying the game with eight seconds left.
The Sand Devils got the next inbound pass into the steady hands of Taliman, who brought the ball down court and knocked in a 12-footer as the clock expired, to give her team the victory.
The final score read Sand Devils 51, Fighting Scouts 49.
Taliman was the game’s leading scorer, with 27 points, 10 of which came in overtime.
Head basketball coach Celeste Claw credits the win to the leadership of her seniors.
“They really stepped up for us today,” she said. “We made some mistakes today, too, but that’s okay as long as we learn from our mistakes, and I think we’re doing that.”
In addition to Taliman’s amazing performance, Coach Claw also praised Keira Jenkins.
“She stepped up big in today’s game. She brought a lot of energy and showed that we can count on her as a key player,” Claw said.