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The Fairfax High School Lady Lions were 8.1 seconds away from dropping out of first place in the Western Division for the first time all season. Forward John’ea Thompson made sure that did not happen.
Thompson hit a game-tying three-pointer at the end of regulation to tie the game, 64-64. and the Lady Lions outlasted the Laces High School Unicorns 90-82 in triple overtime. The victory put the Lady Lions one step closer to their first Western League championship since the 2003-04 season.
“It was a huge win,” said head coach Judi Edwards.
Trailing 64-58 late in the fourth quarter, point guard Angelique McDaniel hit a three-pointer with 8.1 seconds left to bring the Lady Lions within three points. They then forced a Unicorns turnover with 3.4 seconds left, setting up the most exciting play of the game.
Edwards said the play was designed to go to Thompson first and then have her pass it to McDaniel for the three-point shot. But the Unicorns triple-teamed McDaniel on the inbounds play and Thompson found herself with a wide-open shot. She stepped into the shot and swished a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the Fairfax crowd into a frenzy and the game into overtime. While some in the crowd were surprised to see Thompson get the shot, Edwards was confident her star power forward could get the job done.
“She is very capable of hitting threes,” Edwards said. “We use her inside because we need her size and strength there, but they left her wide open and she took the shot.”
Thompson finished the game with 24 points and McDaniel added 15.
Despite the dramatic end to regulation play, the Lady Lions still needed to get the job done in the extra periods. They took leads in the first two overtimes only to see the Unicorns come back, even taking a 72-70 lead late in the first overtime. But McDaniel hit a running floater in the lane with a couple of seconds left to send the game to a second extra frame.
The Lady Lions then started the second overtime with a 5-0 scoring run, but the Unicorns again managed to tie the game. Danah Haley then hit a bank-shot with 43 seconds left to give the Lady Lions the lead. Haley finished with 22 points.
But the Unicorns’ Taylor Holeman tied the game again with a bank-shot of her own, sending the game into a third overtime after the Lady Lions failed to score on the last possession of the period.
“We had a lead in the first two overtimes but we let them get back in the game each time,” Edwards said. “In the third overtime I told them, ‘when you get the lead, can you please not let them have a comeback run?’”
The Lady Lions finally listened, outscoring the Unicorns 11-3 in the final overtime.
“We have a tendency of coming out settled on defense and not being aggressive and attack the ball,” Edwards said. “I told them at halftime that they had to attack, but it’s up to the team to decide when they turn on the defense.”
Edwards added that the team failed to ever turn on the defense Friday, resulting in a 54-40 loss against second-place Palisades High School. Had the Lady Lions won that game, the win on Monday would have clinched the team’s first Western League title in seven years. Instead, they have to travel to Hamilton High School on Wednesday to take care of business against the last-place, winless Yankees.
In local boys soccer:
Contreras High School 3, Hollywood High School 2: The Hollywood Sheiks fell to second place in the Central League with their loss to the Cobras. Jimmy Espinal and Gerson Aguilar each scored a goal for the Sheiks in a losing effort.
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