By Tony Burns
PARKERS CHAPEL - Parkers Chapel’s senior girls were in a must-win situation Tuesday if they wanted to extend their basketball season.
The Lady Trojans trailed Bearden by eight with 1:18 left on the clock.
In distress, PC called on its senior. Terri “Mayday” Malone answered with five points in the final 59 seconds, including the game-winning free throw with 7.5 on the clock in a 53-52 victory in the district tournament.
The win qualified for the Lady Trojans for next week’s regional tournament.
PC improved to 9-18 and will face Harmony Grove Thursday at 7 p.m.
“It feels really good. It’s one of those things that everybody, at the beginning of the year, wants the opportunity to extend their season,” said PC coach Justin Welch.
“The girls have been hanging in there. This hasn’t been the smoothest season by far. But, for them to battle back the way they did at the end of the game when they could’ve just folded up and been done. It tells you a lot about the girls.”
Malone scored 29 points with 10 rebounds and six steals, despite a straight-up double-team all over the court for much of the second half.
“She was a senior playing to extend her career,” said Welch.
“I thought, tonight, she stepped up and played with a lot of heart. You could see it out there - a lot of passion. She knew she would have to, at some point, put the team on her back and she did.”
The Lady Bears led 37-32 going into the fourth.
Iyanah Nelson scored seven points in an 8-0 run to stretch the lead to 49-41 with 2:25 left to play.
The margin was 51-43 after Esie Porter hit two at the line for Bearden with 1:18 remaining.
The Lady Trojans mustered a late charge, triggered by T.K. Burson’s driving lay-up, which led to a three-point play.
After a defensive rebound, Malone went coast-to-coast before pulling up in the lane for a short jumper with 59.2 remaining. Nine seconds later, PC forced a turnover and Hope Wooten went to the line and nailed two huge free throws, pulling the Lady Trojans to within 51-50.
Porter hit one free throw for Bearden. She missed the second and PC’s Kamryn Cross got the board and gave it to Malone, who drove the court before pulling up just inside the free throw line for a jumper, that tied the game at 52-52 with 30 seconds left.
The Lady Trojans’ defense stepped up and forced a turnover with Malone recovering and drawing a foul with 7.5 ticks on the clock.
After PC called a timeout, the senior missed the first attempt. But, the second free throw was nothing but net.
“I was nervous but I had a little bit of confidence. I missed the first one but I knew I was not going to miss two in a row,” said Malone.
As for the timeout, Welch said it was necessary for a defensive adjustment.
“One of my players was confused on who she was supposed to cover. I didn’t want something to happen where she shot and missed that thing and the girl didn’t get covered and we give up that lay-up,” Welch said.
“At that point, I just said, hey, maybe it’ll give her a second to relax and rest her legs because she’d been playing the whole game. I didn’t intentionally ice her but I just felt like we had to communicate at that point.”
Bearden never got off a shot, turning the ball over in the backcourt against the Lady Trojans’ pressure.
Burson added 10 points for PC and, along with Malone, assumed the ball handing duties against Bearden’s full court press.
Burson had three assists and Kaylin Waller had five defensive rebounds.
Despite her individual heroics, Malone praised her teammates for the win.
“They stepped up really well tonight. I’m proud of them. The team effort was really good. The energy was really positive,” said Malone.
“I’m really proud of my team. I’m just really happy about the team I’m on and how they stepped up and we worked together to get a win. I couldn’t do it by myself.”
“It was a total team effort,” said Welch. “These girls were really working hard on defense. It wasn’t perfect, by any means, but the girls were really getting after it. You could tell they were all leaving it on the court tonight, win or lose.”
Nelson led Bearden with 23 points.
Porter added 14 and Latreece Wright scored 10.