Grace Griffin deflected the pass, ran down to the baseline, and immediately turned and leaped into her Liberty teammates.
There were hugs, high-fives, a celebration. It took two overtime periods, but Liberty had outlasted South Carroll, 55-52, in the Class 2A West Section 2 final Thursday.
"Oh my gosh, it seems like we just won the Super Bowl or something," Griffin said. "But we've got to keep on going obviously, there are more games to come. But it was such a long game and we knew that we put so much heart and so much effort into that, it feels so good to know that it paid off."
The Lions (16-7) trailed for the majority of the game. It took defensive stops and key shots for them to extend it past regulation, and then to keep up with the Cavaliers (16-8) in a pair of extra periods.
Liberty senior guard Taylor Jackson gave her team a 53-51 lead with a layup off a steal with 1 minute, 18 seconds to go in double overtime. Fellow senior guard Maddee Farley scored on a putback with 26 seconds remaining to stretch the lead to 55-52.
But it took one final defensive stop. South Carroll had the ball at midcourt after a timeout with 2.5 seconds to go. The ball never made it into the hands of a Cavaliers player, as Griffin poked it into the backcourt and time expired.
"Our defense has to get, and deserves, all the credit," Lions coach Barry Green said. "We just could not get offensive tonight. Fortunately, defensively we were, I felt, equal to the task, which kept us in the game. It never got too far away and we made just enough buckets to keep it close. I can't be more proud of our girls."
Griffin scored a game-high 17 points, while Farley added 15. Griffin hit just her second 3-pointer of the season to give Liberty a 35-33 lead with 1:19 to go in regulation. But SC junior guard Bailey Patrick answered with a jumper 14 seconds later to tie the game at 35-35.
Jackson scored her first points of the game on a 3 at the top of the key with 26 seconds remaining in the first overtime to tie it 45-45, then Liberty's defense got a stop to force another extra period.
"We practice, we play for this. We played them two times, we're experienced, we know them," Jackson said. "So we knew if we just stayed positive, we had it."
South Carroll senior guard Keriann McTavish scored 15 points, Patrick scored 13, and senior forward Bri Heim added another 12.
Between the two overtime periods, the Cavaliers made six go-ahead shots, the last of which was a mid-range jumper banked in by Patrick with 2:19 to go in double OT. But Griffin hit a pair of free throws to tie it 51-51 with 1:35 to go, setting the stage for Liberty's final surge.
South Carroll lost twice to Liberty during the regular season, but neither as close as its playoff defeat. The Cavaliers' season comes to an end after picking up playoff wins over county rivals Francis Scott Key and Winters Mill.
"I'm proud of them, I thought we played hard," Cavs coach Liz Padgett said. "It was a double overtime game against a good team, two good teams, so I'm proud of them."
Liberty advances to the 2A West final for the second straight season. Last year, it traveled to Oakdale and lost. This year, the Lions will play at Williamsport on Saturday night at 7.
Farley said it was the idea of again playing for a regional championship that had her and the Lions pushing through in all six periods of their win over South Carroll.
"I know this is my last year playing and I know if I had lost I would've been in tears," Farley said. "And I just wanted to win this so bad and I just didn't want to give up.
South Carroll (52): Keriann McTavish 15, Bri Heim 12, Bailey Patrick 13, Greta Knopp 4, Andrea Dongmo-Zebaze 4, Sam Franklin 4.
Liberty (55): Grace Griffin 17, Lexi Jones 4, Maddee Farley 15, Olivia Thompson 9, Jess Cronin 5, Taylor Jackson 5.
Halftime: SC, 18-15.