WAYNE — For three and a half quarters, it wasn’t Wayne’s night.
Missed layups, the inability to box out while rebounding, a flurry of turnovers and a general sense of angst were among the reasons the Pioneers’ girls basketball team played behind for most of the night.
But with their backs against the wall they played their best when it mattered most, eliminating an 11-point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation and defeating Class AA No. 8-ranked Chapmanville 69-68 in overtime Monday evening at Wayne High School.
Wayne coach Wade Williamson called the win a “gutsy” one, praising his team for staying the course and fighting until the end of a tough, physical game.
With just over 4 minutes left, the Lady Tigers (14-5) hit back-to-back baskets to extend their lead to a game-high 11 points. Double digit lead in-hand, they had all the momentum and had silenced a rather noisy home crowd late.
Allie Farmer and Hollie Blair were the beneficiaries of Wayne’s lackadaisical defensive effort in the post, collecting uncontested rebounds and second chance points to protect the lead.
Then Sara Hooks happened.
A 3-pointer, followed by a basket-and-1, and another 3-pointer gave No. 5-ranked Wayne (16-2) the spark it needed.
“Someone had to step up. We weren’t together as a team and weren’t pulling ourselves through the whole night. We started making plays and everything clicked,” Hooks said.
She finished with a game-high 30 points. Her final points of the night came on a basket with 14.9 seconds left in regulation that sent the game to overtime.
Eighteen of Hooks’ points came during big moments in the fourth quarter and the energy those shots created translated to the defensive end of the floor. In the blink of an eye, the Pioneers went from dysfunctional to unstoppable, putting together a near-perfect performance in the final three minutes to force overtime.
“I can’t explain the way we shoot the ball some nights. Sometimes we shoot it well, other times we struggle,” said Williamson. “Part of it could be that we haven’t practiced in a few day after having a game postponed Thursday, then couldn’t practice because of snow Friday, so that adds up over time and probably effected our shooting tonight because we haven’t been in the gym.”
The shooting dramatically improved down the stretch, but the comeback would never have happened had the effort on the boards not picked up as well, or had they not won every 50-50 ball in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Somewhat overshadowed by Hooks’ fourth quarter fireworks was Jasmine Tabors’ 24 point, 13 rebound double-double. She came up with points in key moments to keep Wayne within striking distance much of the night, and helped the Pioneers regain the lead for good with 3:20 left in the overtime period.
That lead extended to 65-60 after Alana Eves made her first shot attempt of the night, but Chapmanville hung around.
Down 69-66 in the final 10 seconds, Allison Farmer drove through contact, made a layup and was sent to the line for a chance to tie with four seconds left in overtime, but the shot rimmed out and after a scramble for possession, Wayne controlled it and expired the time.
The win gave Wayne girls the regular season sweep of Chapmanville and improved them to 16-2 on the year and will play their next two games at home, including a Senior night contest with Scott Wednesday evening.
“We have to take it one game at a time now and see what we can do. We play Scott and then Mingo (Central) this week, have Huntington coming up which is a tough game late in the season,” Williamson said. “We have some big games left to play but I think we showed a lot of resiliency tonight.”
Farmer led Chapmanville with 20 points, Blair tossed in 16, Ali Williamson 15, Olivia Dalton 12 and Graci Brumfield five.
Chapmanville hosts Tolsia on Wednesday night in a non-conference game. The Lady Tigers then travel to Man on Feb. 17 in another non-league game in the regular season finale.