Amy Devitt’s heart sunk.
With the Mendota girls basketball team up by three points and less than five seconds left in Saturday’s Lady Bruins Christmas Classic, St. Bede’s Mo Dean received possession on the wing and drove to the hoop.
As Dean drove to the basket, Devitt was whistled for the foul while Dean made the shot to give the Lady Bruins a chance to tie.
It was the last thing Devitt wanted to do.
“I thought my life was over,” she said. “I looked at the scoreboard and thought I saw something different. It was very upsetting at the time.”
Thankfully it was not crippling.
With 3.4 seconds left, Dean missed the game-tying free throw and Devitt grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
The Lady Trojans sophomore sank two free throws to push the lead back to three, and St. Bede’s half-court 3-point shot missed at the buzzer to give Mendota a thrilling 65-62 win.
“This feels amazing to prove to everyone that we are one of the best teams in the area,” Devitt said. “We are so excited.”
Devitt’s game-clinching free throws sealed her impressive 32-point, 10-rebound performance and capped a wild final three minutes.
After St. Bede’s Laura Sickley went on a personal 10-4 run to start the fourth quarter and give the Lady Bruins a 55-50 lead, MHS came alive in the quarter.
Over the game’s final three minutes, the teams traded the lead four times and had two ties, including at 58 with 1:56 left.
Sickley broke the tie with a go-ahead basket with 1:35 to go.
The Lady Bruins held the two-point lead for nearly 40 seconds before Mendota senior Karly Near made a go-ahead 3-point shot with 54.5 seconds left to give the Lady Trojans a 61-60 lead.
On the next possession, St. Bede’s Kelsey Thompson missed the go-ahead 3-pointer, but SBA’s Whitley Funfsinn grabbed the rebound and put up a shot. Her putback missed and Devitt grabbed the rebound but stepped on the out of bounds line to give the Lady Bruins another possession.
With the chance to take the lead, Sickley missed a shot, but SBA again grabbed the rebound and Thompson put up another 3-point shot but it missed with Mendota’s Brooke Carroll grabbing the rebound to end the threat.
With 10.9 seconds left, Near drained two free throws to give MHS a 63-60 lead.
Needing a 3-point shot to tie, Dean received possession on the wing and drove to the lane where she made the basket and was fouled with 3.4 seconds remaining.
“I was looking for a 3-pointer, but Mo went to the basket strong like a senior, a leader and someone who wanted to win a championship,” SBA coach Tom McGunnigal said. “That was just a great play, but you want to knock down the free throw.”
After Dean’s missed free throw and Devitt made two free throws, the Lady Trojans took a 65-62 lead with 2.0 seconds remaining.
“That’s definitely not what we were trying to do, but it happens in this sport,” MHS coach Kevin Geldon said of the foul. “That’s what everybody loves basketball is because of last-second plays. But I was extremely pleased (when it missed).”
Sickely’s half-court heave came up short to seal the Lady Trojans victory.
“It feels great,” Near said. “Like I said earlier in the season, winning and becoming noticeable in the Illinois Valley is really important to us and this shows it to the area.”
Sickley finished with a team-high 25 points for SBA, while Dean had 14 points despite battling foul trouble.
Fieldcrest 57, IVC 45
The Lady Knights fell behind 14-5 early in the second quarter but came roaring back as they closed the game on a 52-31 run to earn the win in the third-place game.
Haley Ruestman scored a game-high 21 points for Fieldcrest (10-5), while Tessa Holland added 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Kewanee 48, Princeton 36
Tied at 24 at half, the Lady Boilermakers outscored the Tigresses 17-6 in the third quarter to earn the victory in the seventh-place game.
Zoe Mead had 16 points for PHS.
Henry 33, LaMoille-Ohio 31
Shelby Wright scored 16 points and Emma Cluskey added 14 points as the Lady Mallards pulled out the win in the ninth-place game.
Shiela Browning had a game-high 20 points for L-O.
Eureka 47, Seneca 44
The Lady Hornets hit a 3-point shot late to take the lead and then added two free throws at the end to seal the win in the fifth-place game.
Mendota’s Devitt and Ally Bromenschenkel were named to the all-tournament team, while St. Bede’s Sickley, Dean , Lydia Stariha and Whitely Funfsinn made the squad.
Also making the team was Fieldcrest’s Ruestman and Holland and Princeton’s Emmalee Sears.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.