“Just like we drew it up.”
Those were the words of Titans head coach Greg Sheley as he watched freshman Renee Lucero hit a game-clinching three-pointer with four seconds left to give Lane a 51-48 lead in the final game of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges basketball championships.
Clackamas Community College Cougars post Megan Feldman was fouled with two seconds left on the ensuing inbounds pass. She went to the free throw line for two shots and hit the first. She intentionally missed the second, hoping Clackamas would get the rebound and score to tie the game.
Titans sophomore Courtney Walchli didn’t let that happen. She corralled the rebound as the buzzer sounded, ensuring Lane’s 51-49 victory.
“I’m ecstatic and so proud of these kids — they showed how resilient they truly are,” Sheley said. “Big-time players make big-time plays when it matters most and that’s what happened with everyone tonight.”
With eight seconds left, sophomore guard Kersey Wilcox drove to the hoop on the left side of the court, where she was cut off by Feldman. Wilcox turned around and found a wide-open Lucero for the big shot.
“We have never had a game end like that,” Lane assistant coach Kevin Grumbley said. “We’ve never had a finish like that before where someone hit a shot of that caliber to win.”
Sheley wasn’t the only one who was ecstatic.
“I just remember thinking, ‘I hope to God it goes in,’” Lucero said. “Never in a million years did I think that I’d be the one to hit that shot, but I’m just so happy for my teammates — especially the sophomores.”
The game didn’t start off well for the Titans as Clackamas sophomore Ashleigh Anderson hit a three-pointer to take an early lead.
Lane battled back to take a 10-7 lead on freshman Simone Thompson’s three-pointer at the 11:52 mark.
The Titans would build their lead to seven, 19-12, over the next five minutes on a layup by sophomore Kersey Wilcox.
Clackamas closed the gap to one, 22-21, on a pair of free throws by Clackamas sophomore Jenny Johnson with three minutes left in the half.
Not to be outdone, Lane went on a 4-0 run the rest of the way, aided by another Lucero three-pointer.
Sophomore post Megan Shields and freshman post Nicole Hannifan, starters for Lane, got into early foul trouble. Both sat on the bench for the last 13 minutes of the half.
The Titans defense held the Cougars to 17 percent (5-for-29) shooting in the half but couldn’t capitalize, shooting just 33 percent (9-for-27) themselves.
The second half was a battle of runs as each team tried establish a clear dominance but was unable to do so.
Lane began the last 20 minutes of play with a quick three points by Hannifan in the first 30 seconds to take an eight-point lead, the largest of the game.
The Cougars responded with a 16-2 run over the next five minutes to take a 37-31 lead, their largest of the game.
The Titans refused to quit, going on a quick 7-0 run to regain the lead with 9:23 left in the game.
Not to be outdone, Clackamas responded with an 11-4 run to take a 48-42 lead with 2:49 seconds left.
The Titans’ options looked bleak, unable to get their offense going and turning the ball over on three straight possessions as they were held scoreless for three and a half minutes until a bucket by Shields cut Clackamas’s lead to 48-44 with 2:02 to play.
“I knew the two twins (Clackamas’s posts Megan and Jordin Feldman) couldn’t guard me down low so I had to take advantage of that for us,” Shields said.
After a turnover by the Cougars on their next possession, Lucero responded with a layup to cut the deficit to two with 1:10 left.
After both teams exchanged turnovers, Clackamas called a timeout with 48 seconds left.
South Region freshman of the year Laci Effenberger was dribbling for the Cougars once play resumed. Wilcox stripped her of the ball and drove the length of the court for the layup to tie the game with 40 seconds left.
Clackamas inbounded and got the ball to South Region MVP Jenny Johnson with Thompson defending her. Johnson took the ball to left side of the court and drove hard against Thompson.
Thompson stayed with Johnson and as she tried to lean into her to draw the foul, Thompson backed away and Johnson fell to the floor and lost control of the ball.
“She’s a good scorer so I forced her left and played aggressive,” Thompson said. “I had to keep my hands up to not foul her and it worked out for us.”
Shields picked up the loose ball and a timeout was called.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“I’ve never gotten a chance to play in a game like this so I’m happy that we pulled it out,” Wilcox said. “Everyone contributed and it’s so awesome to get the win in my last game — no better way to go out than the way we did.”
For the game, Lucero finished with a game-high 15 points and was named as the tournament MVP. Wilcox added 13 points on her way to being named to the first team all-tournament team. Joining her on the all-tournament team was Shields, who added seven points and game-highs of 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Lane’s defense shut down Clackamas, holding them to a season-low 22 percent (14-for-63) shooting in the game.
“Our defense came to play tonight and that’s what won it for us,” Sheley said. “We held them scoreless the last few minutes again — just like we did last time we played them.”
The Lane Titans women’s basketball team won three games in three days to advance to the final game of the NWAACC Basketball Championships March 5.
To get to this game, Lane had to beat the Yakima Valley Yaks, the Centralia Trailblazers and the Chemeketa Storm in consecutive days. Not only did the Titans do so, they won with convincing fashion, beating their opponents by an average of 16-points per game.
They defeated the Yaks 71-54 behind 19 points from Megan Shields and 16 from Kersey Wilcox.
The Titans had to come back from an eight-point deficit halfway through the second half to defeat the Trailblazers 66-60. Renee Lucero went 6-for-7 from beyond the arc to lead Lane with 20 points while sophomore Danielle Schmidt added 12 points and seven rebounds.
With a berth in the championship game on the line, the Titans faced South Region foe the Chemeketa Storm. The Titans dominated from the opening tip, racing out to a 16-point lead at halftime, and continuing to dominate en route to an 83-58 lead. Freshman Tori Mahaffie led Lane with 19 points and sophomore Courtney Walchli added 13 points and eight rebounds.