WESTERVILLE — It took one perfect shot to sink the Centerburg High School girls basketball season and that’s just what the Columbus School for Girls Unicorns got.
Unicorn forward Clare Connor let her buzzer-beating jumper sail from the right of the top of the circle, and it hit nothing but net from three-point range to give her team a 44-41 victory over the Trojans in their first round Division III Central District Sectional at Westerville North High School.
Connor, with 15 points, and teammate Maggie Zelasko, who added 14, led all scorers. Amazingly, Connor’s bucket gave the Unicorns the only three points they scored in the entire fourth quarter.
The Trojans, who were down by as many as nine in the second half, managed to hold the Unicorns scoreless through most of the fourth quarter as they turned up the defense and chipped away.
“I’m not happy with us tonight at all. We didn’t come to play,” Centerburg coach Todd Nauman said. “We stood around and watched them play all night long. We did enough to make a ball-game out of it at the very end, but it was disappointing that this was the best we brought to the court tonight.”
With under 2 1/2 minutes to go, freshman guard Breanna Campbell (two points, two steals, four assists) got the steal and fed the ball to freshman forward Carly Compton, who scored her only bucket to put the Trojans within five, 41-36.
Senior forward Camaranne Myles (eight points, six rebounds) shortly followed by hitting the back half of a pair of foul shots to make it 41-37. This would be the last point of her Centerburg high school career.
Later, with half a minute to go, Campbell hooked up again. This time, she found junior guard Carolyn Moore (4-of-10, eight points), who hit a bucket to bring Centerburg to within two.
More importantly, the Trojans got the ball right back with 23.6 seconds on the clock. Freshman guard Mackenzie Stoyle (5-of-12, 11 points) inbounded the ball for the Trojans. She gave it to Campbell again.
This time, Connor fouled Campbell and sent her to the line with 12.5 seconds left. Amazingly, despite her team shooting 7-of-15 from the line, Campbell made her two foul shots to tie the game at 41.
“Obviously, we played a little better in the fourth quarter,” said Nauman. “We had a few more bodies and we tried to wear on their legs a little bit.”
The Trojan faithful were bracing for overtime. Unfortunately for the Trojans, what transpired in the next 12.5 seconds of regulation was a story akin to some mythical Unicorn legends.
Sophomore guard Imani Caldwell (seven points) brought the ball quickly upcourt and got it to Connor, who missed the jumper. Senior Unicorn Karmell Brown (six points) grabbed the rebound under the board between a pair of Centerburg defenders, and somehow found Connor, who materialized in the open near the top of the circle. She got the ball and managed to get the 3-pointer off in time to extend C.S.G.’s season and send the stunned Trojans home.
For Nauman, whose Trojans were outrebounded, 20-13, the Unicorns are not so much the stuff of myth and magic.
“This is typical of what we talked about all season long,” said Nauman. “We don’t rebound the ball. I just told my team (in the locker room after the game), ‘It was interesting who got the ball — Connor, the best offensive player on their team and has been their leading scorer all year long.’ She got the basketball when she needed to and she won the game for her team. When it comes down to one possession, there are so many places that we could have done better. We just didn’t.”