The final play was symbolic of the game as a whole as a busted play ultimately led the Olentangy Liberty girls basketball team to a 53-52 non-league victory over visiting Hilliard Bradley Tuesday in Powell.
It wasn’t executed properly, but it worked.
Breanna Yashko drove the lane, took a bump and laid it in to tie it with 5.5 second left in overtime. She sank the ensuing free throw to send the Patriots (1-1) to their first victory of the season.
The play called for a double screen at the top of the key, which Liberty coach Sam Krafty said wasn’t executed correctly. It didn’t matter, though, as Yashko found a crease through the middle.
“We didn’t execute the play at all,” Krafty said. “Luckily, she saw a crease and drove to the rim and drew enough contact to get the foul call. It’s something that she’s worked at a lot over the years.”
“I don’t even know how I found that crease,” Yashko said. “We were supposed to do a (double screen at the top of the key) and it wasn’t there.”
Yashko led the Patriots with 17 points to go with four steals and a pair of assists. She had to wait through a timeout to sink the go-ahead free throw, which she said didn’t faze her.
“It was fine — it left me time to get my form down,” she said.
Liberty built a 10-point, 36-26 lead with 2:49 left in the third quarter on a three-pointer by freshman Kelly Levering and a basket underneath by junior post Lauren Spicer.
The Jaguars (0-1) came roaring back with a 14-0 run led by junior guard Teneea Heston. She scored four points on consecutive possessions after assisting on a three-pointer by Carly Allocco to close the lead to 36-33 at the end of the third.
“Obviously, we have a lot of stuff we need to improve on,” Krafty said. “It seemed like we were stuck on 36.”
Junior Abbey White had a basket and a pair of free throws as Bradley took a 40-36 lead with 4:34 left in regulation.
Heston, a senior, led all scorers with 20 points and added four steals, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks. She stripped a driving Katie Harrop going for a layup as Liberty tried to win it in regulation.
“I really like what (Bradley does) and what they’re all about,” Krafty said. “Hopefully we can keep playing them because they do such a great job and they’re so disciplined.”
Liberty freshman Teegan Pifher finally ended the drought with a three-pointer. She did a little bit of everything for the Patriots with 16 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and a pair of assists.
“(Pifher) has done a great job of taking on the pressure,” Yashko said. “She’s really stepped up and done a good job. She’s helped this team in ways that you really can’t ask for from a freshman.”
Harrop led the way with six steals for the Patriots and Spicer had eight rebounds and three blocks.
Emma Humaney hit a key three-pointer for the Patriots with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter to give Liberty the lead and Pifher fed Sidney Englehart cutting to the hoop after a pair of Alissa Spears free throws tied it again for Bradley.
“We had some great growth from game one to game two just strictly in our effort … our communication was a lot better and our bench was engaged the whole night,” said Krafty, whose squad opened with a 61-36 loss to Rocky River Magnificat in the Gary West Memorial Classic at Reynoldsburg Saturday. “All of that stuff from game one to game two is a huge improvement.”
Heston drove the lane for a layup to tie it for Bradley with 35 seconds left that ultimately sent it to overtime.
The teams were tied 21-21 at halftime after Bradley held a slim 6-5 lead after one.
Liberty has a week off to prepare for rival Olentangy. The two meet in Powell Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. to open OCC Buckeye action.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.