At one point in the fourth quarter, South Carroll girls basketball coach Jim Shea told his five varsity players on the court to be patient.
That patience and execution were necessary, considering the Cavaliers played down to host Winters Mill through the majority of Tuesday’s Class 2A West Section 1 semifinal. Cavs sophomore Bethany Fowler scored eight points in about a three-minute span to help SC tie the game at 42-42.
The visiting team never looked back from that point and outlasted the Falcons 51-47 to advance to the sectional final Thursday at Oakdale.
“I’m extremely excited for them and I know this was a big one they had been wanting to do for a couple years,” Shea said. “They’ve been knocked out by Winters Mill a couple times in the playoffs and this is kind of the team we are. I knew no matter how far we got down, we can always come back so it was a really fun game to be a part of.
“Winters Mill is very well-coached, they’ve got a great team so to come up with a win in the playoffs against a team like that is very impressive.”
South Carroll started out on top early in the first quarter until Winters Mill opened a 7-0 scoring run to close out the frame ahead by three, 12-9. Kaitlyn Thompson sank a pair of free throws for Winters Mill and notched a layup off an assist from Erin Snyder to give the Falcons a 19-13 lead. The Cavs came within two, thanks to a pair of free throws from Riley Evans, but Snyder and Kolby Brown each hit 3s to put WM ahead 29-21 early in the third.
The Falcons (13-10) led by nine to start the fourth quarter when Fowler turned two steals into two layups and got fouled both times with just under five minutes to go. Fowler and Riley Evans combined for six free throws to tie the score at 42-42.
Fowler converted a 3-point play with less than two minutes to play, but fouled out shortly after. Sydni Carroll and Rachel Tackett combined for six points in the final minute of play and South Carroll completed the comeback.
“It felt amazing and I like that my team was supporting me throughout,” Fowler said. “Even though I fouled out, we still had Sydni to make our foul shots. I think it was a deep-two, which helped us out a lot and we played good defense and I think that’s what helped us win the game.”
Fowler led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds. Ashleigh Zepp brought down eight boards and Lauren Habighorst had three assists for the Cavs (10-12).
Snyder led the Falcons with a balanced attack — 15 points, three steals and four assists.
This marked the third meeting between the county foes this season – WM beat SC 40-35 on Dec. 18, and the Cavs exacted revenge to defeat the Falcons 53-51 in overtime on Jan. 22.
Falcons coach Dave Wynne said these are two very evenly-matched teams who provide a great rivalry with one another.
“We probably bring out the best and the worst in each other in terms of both teams who are going to be very physical and will give it everything they have for 32 minutes,” Wynne said. “Give them the credit, they were able to be physical down the stretch, grab some rebounds, get a few steals off of our turnovers — it was their night tonight.
“They made some more of their free throws down the stretch and we missed a lot of free throws in the second half, they toughed out a big win and they earned it.”