A Long shot gives Mac a victory
“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” McMinnville coach Sean Coste said, “but we’re sure happy it went through the hoop.”
Mac plays at 6 p.m. today at Tigard.
The Grizzlies (8-4) and Jaguars (6-7) played a back-and-forth fourth quarter, but it appeared as if Mac was pulling away after sophomore Audrey McMillan made two free throws with 2:55 left to give Mac a 45-41 lead. Even after the Jaguars scored with 2:10 to go on a layup by Chelsea Ronek, the Grizzlies could still have run out the clock. Instead, a turnover turned into two more points for the Jaguars with 1:43 left to tie the game at 45.
The last minute and a half turned into a wild ping-pong match. The Grizzlies ran a pick and roll with Long, but her pass bounced off the foot of a Century defender, and the Jaguars raced down the other way. With 21 seconds left, Century made a bad pass into the backcourt and was called for over-and-back, giving the Grizzlies the ball back.
The Grizzlies tried to run some clock and get a good shot, and Coste twice called timeouts after plays he had drawn up didn’t work out. Mac ran a play that got McMillan open, but it took too long for someone to find her in the key, and McMillan was called for three seconds in the key with 3 seconds left in the game.
On the subsequent inbounds pass, Long stepped in front for the steal and raced to the hoop for a layup. She missed the shot, but a foul was called with half-a-second left on the clock.
“I was hoping I made the lay-in,” Long said.
“Nicole came through with a huge steal and play,” Coste said. “You don’t expect that to happen with three seconds left.”
No. You expect overtime, but instead Long was given a chance to be the hero, and despite the Grizzlies struggling all night to make their foul shots, she calmly made the first after shaking loose here arms. Long tried to miss the second shot on purpose but missed the rim, and Century was given one final inbounds play, but it couldn’t get a shot off before time expired.
Long did her best to keep calm after making the first shot. She didn’t smile until after the buzzer sounded and she had grabbed her water bottle from the bench. Then she let a small grin appear on her face.
“I was trying to keep the team under control,” Long said. “That’s rough. I can’t believe I was in that situation.”
The Grizzlies, it seemed, won in spite of themselves. They led 12-8 after the first quarter and 26-18 at halftime. They gave up all of that lead in the third quarter and trailed 37-35 at the start of the fourth quarter before righting the ship late.
“We never got into sync,” Coste said.
Mac forced 28 turnovers, but couldn’t convert the extra chances into enough points. Still, Coste said, sometimes things have a way of working themselves out.
“What do coaches usually say?” Coste said. “We didn’t play our best, but we’ll take the win when it comes and just get better.”
Notes: Grace McMillan led the Grizzlies with 13 points. Audrey McMillan scored seven points, and Emily Bliven, playing with a broken nose, scored eight points. Long scored six points and Taylor Petersen scored five points. ... Century went on a 9-2 run early in the third quarter to get back in the game. The Jaguars scored with 6:54 remaining in the third, and after a bucket Mac, Century scored seven points in 40 seconds to get the McMinnville lead to 30-29. A 3-pointer with 10 seconds left by Cassidy VanDomelen gave the Jags their first lead.