Instead of feeling the pressure, the Atholton girls basketball team applied it.
The Raiders used a relentless full-court press and a newfound resolve to complete a 47-46 comeback win against visiting Centennial in Columbia last night.
Atholton, which trailed 41-35 with 3:18 left in the fourth quarter, scored 12 of the game's last 17 points to seal only the team's second victory decided by four points or less.
"We've had so many close games that haven't gone our way," said junior forward Allie Scott, who collected team highs in points (14) and rebounds (7). "We finally closed this one."
The Raiders wrapped up the regular season with a 14-8 overall record and a 13-7 county mark courtesy of its ability to harass the Eagles' ball-handlers into making mistakes.
Centennial (11-11, 10-10), which turned the ball over nine times in the first half, committed 16 turnovers in the second half.
"That's our game," said freshman guard Julie Taylor, who scored 13 points. "We always pressure because we're fast and quick. ... I think our pressure gave us the edge today."
Atholton, which led just once at 6-4 in the first quarter, made its run after Eagles sophomore forward Brittany Kelley hit a three-pointer with 3:18 left in the game.
Senior guard Julia Reynold (nine points and five rebounds) hit a three-pointer to start the burst. After Scott converted one of two free throws, senior guard Chelsey Barrett (nine points and four rebounds) made a three-pointer to give the Raiders a 42-41 lead with 2:15 left.
After the teams traded missed shots and turnovers on their next two possessions, Barrett made two of her four steals and fed Taylor for back-to-back layups and a 46-41 Atholton lead.
Barrett answered two free throws from Centennial sophomore forward Caitlin Burr with one of two free throws of her own. Eagles junior guard Lindsay Molesky connected on a three-pointer at the buzzer to end the scoring.
"We wanted to win this so bad that we forced things," said Kelley, who paced Centennial with 18 points and 17 rebounds. "Their pressure won it for them."