XENIA — The final play was drawn up just how Legacy Christian Academy girls basketball coach Mark Combs wanted it, well, sorta.
With LCA and visiting Carlisle all knotted up at 46-all in this Jan. 26 nonleague contest, and with 49.3 seconds left in regulation, Combs’ Knights had the next possession. His players got across midcourt when he called his first timeout and set up a play that had LCA players spread out single file across the court, with Olivia Combs inbounding the ball from the left side.
Unable to penetrate Carlisle’s defense, coach Combs called another timeout with 16.6 seconds left.
This time, the Knights inbounded the ball from the right side and lined up the same way. Confusion ensued and the ball didn’t immediately get to Rachel Sweeney, the play’s intended shooter. The senior guard finally got the ball with roughly 12 seconds left.
She drove in from the right, was stopped and pulled the ball back out to the top of the key.
Then with Carlisle’s Miranda Weist practically in her jersey with stellar defense, the Knight senior drove left and put up a shot that banked off the backboard glass and rattled in as the buzzer sounded. LCA had won, 48-46.
Was it a set play for Sweeney to score? Sweeney could only laugh and look to coach Combs for an answer.
“It didn’t quite go as planned, but it was a set play for her, yeah,” Combs said, before giving Sweeney a bear hug.
Sweeney said a pre-game talk helped fire her up for Thursday’s contest.
“We talked right before the game about how (the seniors) only have seven regular season games left. So we gotta play them like it’s our last,” she said. “I’m just really glad that I could do that for the team in my senior year.”
Sweeney said she wanted to make sure she didn’t turn the ball over on that final drive. “I just wanted to put up a shot in that final second, and hope it goes in,” she said.
She led the Knights in scoring with a game-high 18 points. Sweeney is currently ranked fifth in the Metro Buckeye Conference in scoring with a 15.8 points per game average.
The other LCA player to finish in double-figure scoring was sophomore guard Emily Riddle with 12. Riddle is 10th in the MBC with a 12.5 ppg average.
Carlisle (9-7) was led by Sydney Gilbert’s 13-point effort, and teammate Christa Harris was next with 10.
Combs said Sweeney cleared up any late-game confusion her teammates might’ve had.
“Some of the girls were a little confused when we ran the play the second time from the other direction, but Rachel took over the play. That’s what seniors do,” Combs said. “We didn’t want to give up the shot try too early. If we shoot with 10-11 seconds left, that would give Carlisle plenty of time to score. So we’re okay with going to overtime. We just wanted to be the last team to take a shot at the basket before time ran out. Rachel did that, and fortunately it went in.”
Combs said his centers — senior forward Rebecca Dendinger and junior forward Hannah Barber — did a good job of creating turnovers by swatting balls loose from inside.
“A lot of times, they were getting tips that led to steals in transition for us, so I thought both of those girls did a really good job for us tonight,” he said.
Next, LCA hosts leader Miami Valley in a Metro Buckeye Conference tilt at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28.