OAKWOOD — With the game hanging in the balance, Lakeview Academy’s lone senior stepped to the free throw line and delivered.
After West Hall tied the game 32-32 on a Tori Alfredsson 3-pointer, the Lady Spartans fouled Amber Whitlock with 1.5 seconds left to play. Whitlock missed the first of two, but swished the second one to give the Lady Lions a 33-32 win in the season opener for both teams Tuesday at West Hall.
“I thank the Lord our point guard is our best free throw shooter,” Lakeview coach John Carrick said. “I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else on the line there.”
Whitlock finished with 11 points, four rebounds and two steals, and according to West Hall coach Lynn Jarrett, she was the difference in the game.
“Their guard just controlled the game,” Jarrett said. “She did a really good job.”
Whitlock’s 3-pointer in the third quarter gave the Lady Lions (1-0) a 20-19 lead they did not relinquish until Alfredsson’s game-tying 3-pointer. Alfredsson led all scorers with 13 points.
Lakeview built an eight-point lead in the fourth, in large part due to the Lady Spartans (0-1) getting cold from the field.
After taking a 19-17 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter, West Hall failed to score until a Jensen Hall jump shot with 3:46 left to play.
While it appeared inconsequential at the time, Hall’s jumper sparked an 8-3 run. Hall and Alfredsson both hit 3s during that run to help cut the deficit to one point.
“We just made a shot,” Jarrett said of the comeback. “It just gave us a little momentum.”
It also allowed the Lady Spartans to pressure the ball, which led to four straight turnovers by Lakeview.
“They put pressure on us, and we freaked,” Carrick said. “In my mind, they came out with a little press and rattled us.”
A Mona Abraham free throw increased the Lady Lions’ lead to two with 23 seconds left, and Whitlock made another foul shot to extend that lead to three.
With no time outs, the Lady Spartans quickly got the ball up court and into the hands of Alfredsson, who sank a 3 to tie the game. The lack of time outs prevented Jarrett from instructing her team not to foul, which they did and sent Whitlock to the line to win the game.
“I’m proud of the way they came back,” Jarrett said.” We’re still searching for an identity.”
For Carrick, it was his first win as the head coach of the Lady Lions, and although he didn’t put too much emphasis on how much it meant, he did say the win would benefit his players.
“It might make them pay attention just a little bit more,” Carrick said. “Winning’s better than anything other than oxygen, but it’s exceptionally nice for these kids.”
Abraham led the Lady Lions with 10 rebounds, while Miranda Miller pulled down nine boards and had four steals for the Lady Spartans.
West Hall visits Jefferson at 7 p.m. Saturday and Lakeview next plays host to North Cobb Christian at 7 p.m. Friday.