West Carter junior Lexie Berry had struggled most of the game against Menifee County on Thursday in the semifinals of the All “A” Classic.
But with just 3.4 seconds left on the clock, all of that was out of her mind as she received an inbounds pass from Madison Hanshaw and hit a buzzer-beating layup to give the Lady Comets a 58-56 win over the Lady Wildcats.
“We’re going to set a screen for (Morgan Berry, her seventh grade sister),” Lexie said. “I was going to roll but it did not work.”
“I got the ball and did what I needed to do for my team.”
She missed 10 out of her 11 shots before hitting the biggest shot of the game for West. None of that mattered because she put her team back in the Championship game of the small schools tournament for the third time in the past four seasons.
Lexie might have had the big shot to win the game, but her sister, Morgan shined with a 29 point, seven rebounds and eight steals performance to spark the Lady Comets.
West Carter had to rally from 12 points down and a 30-point performance by Menifee sophomore Ashton Woodard. After a 28 point fourth quarter performance by the Lady Comets brought the home crowd’s excitement to a roar.
In the final minute, Morgan went to the free throw line and could not connect on two freebies. After getting the ball back, big sister Lexie was fouled with six seconds to go with her team down two.
She would hit both of them, despite her nerves from rallying from a 13 point deficit.
“I was shaking and I’ve never been more nervous (at the line) than any time in my life,” Lexie said.
“Whenever I wasn’t hitting my free throws, I was extremely nervous,” Morgan said. “But when Lexie stepped up, I had confidence in my sister to knock them down.”
But Lexie said the credit is misguided as to why the Lady Comets won.
“My sister is better than me,” Lexie said, “I'm proud of her.”
After the game was tied at 56, Menifee’s Liz Dotson, the inbounder after the free throws threw a baseball pass to the other end of the court that no one touched to give West Carter a chance to win the game.
West inbounded the play to Lexie who hit the turnaround shot at the block and put the shot up over Woodard to give West Carter the victory.
“She doesn't wear her emotions on her sleeve,” Coach Bart Stevens said. “She wears them on her feet. It was a lot of pressure on (Lexie) to hit those two free throws and that shot. It would not have mattered if we were in the NBA finals, she would want the shot and she took it.”
A bugaboo for the Lady Comets this season has been turnovers. While they committed 16 in the game, they had just one in the final period. Stevens ball club forced 16 of Menifee’s 23 in the second half that led to 19 points.
“Our diamond press turned the game around for us,” Stevens said. “The pressure up front allowed us to get the ball back and create more scoring opportunities.”
MacKenzie Bates can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.