PASADENA — Looking to be heading into overtime, Thursday night's nonleague girls' basketball game between Holy Family and Mayfield was deadlocked after Gaels guard Gayle Lachica hit two free throws to tie up the score with 20 seconds remaining.
But out of a Cubs timeout, Mayfield's Carrie Morris drove down the lane and dropped the ball off to Mary Spohn who made a contested 15-footer with five seconds on the clock that sent the Gaels to their third loss in four games.
"The instructions we gave in the timeout were to contest the shot, and we did," said Holy Family Coach Ernest Siy after the 44-42 nailbiter of a loss. "She just made a great shot."
The other play caller wasn't so lucky in getting through to his players, but he'll take it.
"I didn't draw that one up," said Mayfield Coach Kevin Yamamoto. "It looked like Carrie was going to put it up, but she gave it to Mary and our senior came through for us."
The thrilling finish concluded a game that was really a tale of two halves. The Cubs scored the first basket of the game, but it was all Holy Family (1-3) from there as it led thereafter for the entire first half.
The Cubs (4-1) came out from the break aggressive on defense, switching to a full-court press that caught the Gaels off guard, and threw them off their game.
Turnovers and lopsided time of possession caused by the press helped Mayfield turn a 23-18 halftime deficit into a 35-31 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
"They kicked our butts in the third quarter," Siy said. "We panicked, couldn't adjust, and they took advantage."
Siy's senior guard agreed with those sentiments.
"They're one of the few teams that pressed us," said Lachica, who finished with 12 points. "It had us scattering into too many turnovers."
Yamamoto simply had to change up the game plan, given things weren't working in the first half.
"Because we were down, we went to a 1-2-1-1 press then switched to a 2-2-1," he said. "It forced our players to be more aggressive instead of just standing around."
Morris led the charge in the third quarter, scoring eight of her 17 points in the frame.
One of the most telling stats perhaps was that the game's leading scorer, Holy Family's Clarizza Merino, was held scoreless in the momentum-shifting third quarter.
Clarizza made five three-point baskets on her way to 19 points. The full-court press put on by the Cubs disallowed the Gaels' long-range shooting.
"Our girls brought it back, so I give them credit," Siy said.
Lachica led the comeback, scoring five points in the hard-fought fourth quarter — each point gave the Gaels the lead or tied the game.
"We played pretty well, made outside shots," Lachica said. "But we missed too many layups and that's what hurt us."