Saltillo wins in come-from-behind fashion over Dodd City
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Feb. 15, 2006 - GREENVILLE - Saltillo coach Garry Davison took a chance when he had his girls start fouling Dodd City with more than a minute to go in the playoff game and down three points Tuesday.

The gamble paid off.

Saltillo outscored the Lady Hornets 5-0 over the final 60 seconds to take a 47-45 victory in the bi-district round of the Class A, Div. II playoffs at Greenville.

Dodd City missed the front end of two one-and-ones, and Saltillo sophomore Winter Stevens had four points on a pull-up jumper and a lay-up and grabbed an important offensive rebound during that span, finishing with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds.

It was Stevens' basket off an alert penetration feed from junior Chloe Roberts with 26 seconds to play that gave Saltillo its final lead at 46-45.

"I thought Winter really stepped up and played really well tonight," said Saltillo head coach Garry Davison. "They were trying to take away Chloe at the end, and Chloe did a great job of getting penetration and when they came to her, finding Winter wide open under the goal.

"You couldn't have drawn it up any better."

Or what happened afterward.

Dodd City's Cecily Darwin missed a short jumper on the other end, and Lady Lion freshman guard Cara Geerts, the smallest player on the court, tied up the rebound with 10.9 seconds to play.

The possession arrow gave the ball to Saltillo, and Dodd City immediately fouled Geerts on the inbound pass. Geerts then hit one free throw with 8.2 seconds left, and Stevens rebounded the miss on the second shot and kept the ball alive until Saltillo was called for a travel with 1.4 seconds remaining.

A midcourt desperation heave by Dodd City's Kimberly Gibson, who had a team-high 17 points, fell way short at the buzzer.

The win sends No. 17 Saltillo to the area round, where they will play Henrietta Midway, probably Friday evening in either Little Elm or McKinney.

After Tuesday, the Lady Lions may feel like they have been on a roller coaster. Dodd City went up by seven points in the first period, 15-8, as Gibson hit all three shots she took, including a 3-pointer.

But, Roberts hit a trey of her own from the corner with 25 seconds to go in the period to draw the Lady Lions to within 15-11. Roberts finished with 11 points and three assists.

The second period was a different story. Saltillo used a 17-0 run to go up 28-18 with 3:20 to play. The run had a little bit of everything - a press break bucket by Emily White, an end-to-end dribble and spin move by Stevens resulting in a conventional 3-point play, a putback by Stephens, a pair of 3-point plays by White who finished with 11 points, and finally a steal and lay-up by Geerts.

The Lady Lions got up by as many as 11 points (35-24) to start the third period, but all of a sudden Dodd City got hot, with Gibson drilling a pair of 3-pointers as the Lady Hornets ran off a 15-2 streak to take a  39-37 lead going into the fourth period.

Neither team led by more than three points in the final period, with Saltillo's Jessica Gilbreath hitting a big 3-pointer from the left wing to tie the game at 41-41, and then Stevens took over in the final minute.

"They missed a couple of free throws and gave us an opportunity," Davison said. "You're taking a chance and hoping they miss a free throw. I watched them and scouted them a couple of times, and they made free throws then. We couldn't be picky at the end - we were just trying to get the ball out of their hands so we could go score at the other end.

"I was proud of my young kids, down three points with a minute to go and they found a win to win. I've said this is a special group, and I was proud of them."

The Lady Lions hit 18-of-44 field goals, compared to 21-of-45 for Dodd City. Each team went 3-of-8 from beyond the arc.

"We don't do anything but play man defense. That's all we've done, and that's what has gotten us this far," Davison said. "We had some breakdowns tonight, but they ran some good plays and had some things prepared for us.

"I thought our defense played well enough, and then my young girls stepped up at the end."

Notes: Each team played just five players. ... The only senior on the court was Dodd City's Gibson, and the only junior was Saltillo's Roberts. ... Only 25 fouls were called, and the teams committed a combined total of 19 turnovers. That helped the game last just 75 minutes.

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