By Dave Tomczak
With 12 seconds remaining, the host Rockets were tied 47-47 with Mona Shores in an O-K Black Conference matchup, and were looking for standout Lauren Ross.
The Rockets’ senior guard had taken over in the second half, scoring 16 of her team’s 29 points, and was poised to take one more shot.
Catching a pass on the wing, Ross took one dribble before pulling up and nailing a 3-pointer as time expired, giving Reeths-Puffer a thrilling 50-47 victory.
“Originally I was supposed to get it in the post,” said Ross, who finished with a game-high 27 points. “But I looked up and there were only seven seconds left, so I knew I had to get the ball and shoot it.”
The Rockets improved to 15-2 overall and 6-2 in the conference. Mona Shores fell to 6-9 and 3-4.
The underdog Sailors gave Reeths-Puffer a fight all night, scoring the game’s first seven points, and taking a 13-9 lead after one quarter, led by Olivia Sobczak’s eight points.
The second quarter was more of the same, with Mona Shores Shores keeping the Rockets out of the paint by controlling the boards, and building a 24-18 halftime lead.
“I knew that this was going to be a good game,” said Reeths-Puffer Coach Rodney Walker. “Each team in this conference is getting better, and everybody is playing each other for a second time. I knew Shores had good players. They did a good job on the boards and I was impressed with their poise.”
After being held to just two first-half field goals, Ross attacked the rim every chance she got in the third quarter, scoring nine points.
Her teammate, Trina Lewis hit a layup with 5:20 left in the third, giving R-P its first lead of the game, 26-25. But the Sailors responded and took a 34-33 lead after three quarters.
The final quarter was a back-and-forth affair, and after Lewis hit one of two free throws, the Rockets held a 47-45 lead with less than two minutes remaining.
The Sailors responded with a pair of free throws from Sobczak to tie the game at 47-47 with 1:08 left.
The Rockets gave the ball to Ross, who dribbled out most of the clock before being tied up by Bri Wade with 12 seconds left.
The possession arrow pointed the Rockets’ way, and Sophia Hekkema took the inbounds pass and found Ross five seconds later for the game-winning shot.
“Lauren is such a strong kid, and you knew at some point she was going to take over,” Sailors coach Mike Phillips said. “That was such a clutch shot at the end. We got her 20, 21 feet from the basket, so you like your odds, but you could tell she was ready for that shot.”
Ross finished with 19 second-half points and totaled 14 rebounds and five assists for Reeths-Puffer.
Sobczak led Mona Shores with 16 points, Riley Rosenthal scored 11, Wade had nine points and Brooke LeRoux grabbed seven rebounds.