In what was looking like an easy win for the Lebanon Warriors girls basketball team at home against the Corvallis Spartans on Jan 23, turned into a last-second nailbiter.
While the Spartans trailed the entire game, they outscored Lebanon 17-6 in the fourth quarter to come within a point of the lead 41-42. With the clock ticking down, the Warriors played lights out man-to-man coverage holding their arms high in the air, with Lebanon's tallest player Ellie Croco, 6 feet, 1 inch, getting in the face of a Spartans defender trying to pass the ball inbounds.
Facing Lebanon's unyielding defense, Corvallis wing Maranda Tucker managed to find open spot the right side of the court, behind the three-point line where she attempted a shot, hitting the backboard and missing. A Spartan attempted a putback before Lebanon's Mary Workman came up with the defensive rebound, and she was immediately fouled as she grabbed possesion of the ball.
The foul set up Lebanon's bonus sending her to the line. Workman sank her first free throw, and couldn't convert on the second, which would have guaranteed the Spartans could only tie the game.
Lebanon managed to get the rebound off of Workman's missed free, but they couldn't quite hold on to it as the ball found its way out of bounds to give the Spartans their last possesion with 0.9 seconds remaining on the clock, and one last chance at a miracle Hail Mary play to win the game.
Spartan Krysta Wilson attempted to chuck the ball to the middle of the court, but it bounced off Croco and back to Wilson, which took absolutely no time off of the clock, much the the chagrin of Lebanon head coach Mardy Benedict. Wilson then chucked the ball to the across the gym into Lebanon's paint, where a Spartan attempted a lay up but couldn't convert on the basket as the buzzer sounded to end the game.
So the glorious Warriors walked away with their heads head high, with hesitant smiles for keeping that lead.
"That's how it's been for us, but we came out on top," Benedict said. "We just got some tough breaks with the clock and everything that happens, but those things happen in games. We just have to weather the storm"
Some of the players got a little tentative in the last quarter, but played well in the first three, he added.
"And played not to lose instead of really attacking, but that's something we're going to work on," Benedict said. "I thought we played amazing the first half."
The first three quarters of the game were all Warriors. The early rout was led by power forward Croco who led the Warriors in points, rebounds and steals.
"She played great today, she was able to slow down and just take it, and make good passes out of it," Benedict said. "She just played complete for us. It was super awesome."
The mid-Willamette Conference remains the most competitive 5A league with the top with the top four teams all boasting overall records with at least an 80 percent winning percentage.