|Lady Panthers defeat Avery in overtime|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Feb. 14, 2006 - PATTONVILLE - Overtime playoff games have not played out well for the North Hopkins Lady Panthers - at least not until Monday night.
Having been bumped from the postseason the last two years in overtime, the Lady Panthers rid themselves of the stigma with a 68-65 bi-district victory over Avery at Prairiland High School.
The way regulation ended, it did not bode well for the Lady Panthers.
Avery tied the game with a last-second lay-in before the fourth quarter buzzer as a pair of Lady Panthers tripped over each other trying to get back on defense. Avery then scored the first bucket in overtime to take a two-point lead.
But, after NH missed its first three shots in OT, sophomore Jessi Mannis knocked down a huge 3-pointer and senior Elizabeth McPherson came up with a backside rebound to complete a conventional 3-point play and give the Lady Panthers a four-point lead (64-60) with two minutes to play in the extra period.
Then, it was just a matter of making their free throws, which the Lady Panthers did, and Nancy Castro sealed the win with a steal off an Avery inbound pass with 3.8 seconds to play.
In the middle of all of that was North Hopkins' All-State post Katy Williams, who had a monster game with 28 points and 28 rebounds. She also had the assist on Mannis' OT trey, and came up with a steal in the extra period.
The Lady Panthers (21-10) will advance to the area round against either Merit Bland or seventh-ranked Lindsay, who play tonight in Sherman.
"I'm proud of the kids to get an overtime win," said NHHS head coach Tim Menke, who notched his 305th career victory. "We were a little snakebit on that. I was real proud of the way they played down the stretch."
Mannis finished with 19 points as she knocked down four 3-pointers in six attempts, and McPherson added 10 points and six rebounds. Junior point guard Ebbonye Johnson added nine points and four assists.
Neither team led by more than five points throughout the game, as Avery countered Williams' presence inside with the guard duo of Tyranie Ricks and Shanthanie Williams, who combined for 40 points and 20 rebounds.
It was Avery's Williams who made a 3-pointer with 31 seconds to play in regulation - the only trey Avery would hit all game - that pulled the Lady Bulldogs to within 56-54. After Mannis hit a free throw, Shanthanie Williams drove in for a lay-up to make the score 57-56.
The Lady Panthers then turned the ball over on the inbound play with 16 seconds remaining, but Avery mishandled the ball seven seconds later and had to foul. Katy Williams hit a free throw for a two-point lead (58-56) with 6.1 seconds left. But, Avery made a long pass down court to Tasha McCarty, and when two Lady Panthers collided and fell, McCarty had an uncontested lay-up to tie the game.
"I don't know what happened on the collision at midcourt," Menke said. "We wanted to double (Williams) to keep her from catching the ball, but everyone was supposed to go back to their kid.
"I am real proud of our kids because that was kind of a disastrous thing that happened at the end of the game."
About four minutes earlier, the NH faithful had another scare when Katy Williams fell backward while fighting for a rebound and banged the back of her head on the floor. She stayed down for several minutes, but re-entered the game and scored eight points after that.
She made 12-of-17 free throws as the Lady Bulldogs tried to put as many people on her as possible.
"Katy was taking a lot of fouls on the rebound. It was difficult because they were jamming her with two or three people. One time, I saw they were jamming her with four people," Menke said.
Overall, the Lady Panthers hit 26-of-45 free throws, compared to just 6-of-14 for Avery, which also had two players foul out.
While it wasn't a great performance from the line, it was enough to get the victory.
"The last two years, we have been beaten in overtime, but I think we're past all of that. This was a big win for us," said Katy Williams. "We worked as a team. They did so great today. I am so proud of them."