Sorrentino: Balance key ingredient in overtime comeback
Following the Tonganoxie High girls basketball team's 50-44 overtime victory Friday night against Basehor-Linwood, I interviewed THS senior forward Shannon Carlin outside the locker rooms.
I began to formulate a question about the most exciting high school basketball game - boys or girls - I had seen all season. I didn't even know where to start.
"I think you're more speechless than me right now," Carlin said.
She had a point.
Well I've had some time to reflect on the game, and it's made me anything but speechless.
The Chieftains (12-2) have separated themselves from the good Kansas Class 4A teams and have become part of the great 4A teams.
And it's all because of balance.
Every THS player who played down the stretch against Basehor-Linwood (12-1) made significant contributions to the victory.
This will make it simpler to visualize. Here's a list of every THS player who played in the fourth quarter and overtime and the difference she made in the victory:
Shannon Carlin: The senior scored only seven points, but had her best game of the season, in my opinion. Carlin picked up her fourth foul early in the third quarter, but finished the game without fouling out. And what's most impressive is during this time, Carlin was the most aggressive player on the floor.
With the game tied at 39 with 9 seconds left in regulation, senior guard/forward Liz Baska missed her second free throw. Carlin established position in the lane for the offensive rebound, then alertly made a pass to a wide-open Tracie Hileman underneath the basket for a layup and a 41-39 lead, which was the first time THS was ahead since the first quarter.
In overtime, Carlin drained two free throws with 50.6 seconds left to give THS a 46-44 lead. On Basehor-Linwood's next possession, Carlin jumped the passing lane and stole the ball, which later proved to seal the THS victory.
Christy Weller: The senior guard came up with a huge steal with THS down 39-35 with 59 seconds left in regulation. On the next THS possession, Weller drained a three pointer with 40 seconds left to cut the BLHS lead to one.
Weller then sealed the THS victory in overtime by sinking two clutch free throws with 23 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.
Liz Baska: The senior guard/forward came up with arguably the defensive play of the game with her steal on a crosscourt pass with 23 seconds left in regulation and THS down by one.
On Tonganoxie's next possession, Baska drove the lane and drew the fifth foul on Basehor-Linwood's best player, Cassie Lombardino.
Chrissie Jeannin: The junior point guard started an 11-2 fourth-quarter run with a crucial jump shot from the right baseline with 2:40 left in regulation.
Tracie Hileman: The senior forward gave THS its first lead (41-39) since the first quarter when she converted a layup with 9 seconds left in regulation.
Ronnie Grizzle: Hileman fouled out in overtime, so the junior forward took her place. Grizzle converted a layup with 1:30 left in overtime to tie the game at 44.
When I looked at the box score, it didn't surprise me that the leading THS scorers were Baska and Weller with only 13 points.
The Chieftains didn't need anyone to score 20 or 30 points because everyone who stepped on the floor made a difference. It resulted in knocking off one of the best teams in the state.