Braymer Lady ’Cats stun top seed Norborne in double OT in CLAA tourney semifinals

Olivia Dooley’s heroics for Norborne cost BHS girls multiple chances to win sooner, easier Wednesday

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

TINA — In keeping with the event’s overall time frame, a marathon opening game in which Braymer’s Lady ’Cats appeared to have top-seeded and defending champion Norborne defeated multiple times before finally accomplishing the feat 79-77 in double overtime made for a late-finishing night of championship-semifinals play in the 2021 Carroll-Livingston Activity Association Tournament Wednesday.

Sophomore Raylee Hawkins’ driving deuce through the 4-player NHS defense – two of the six Lady Pirates had long since fouled out – produced the tiebreaking points with five seconds remaining in the second extra segment. Norborne, whose Olivia Dooley had provided multiple Houdini acts of escape to keep the game going that long, got a timeout called with just over three seconds to go, officials ruled, but could not get any semblance of a reasonable game-tying or game-winning shot away when play resumed.

BHS’ upset victory leaves the Lady ’Cats and second-seeded host Tina-Avalon to tangle for the girls’ title Thursday at about 7:30 p.m.

That will be followed by Southwest Livingston’s No. 1-seeded boys clashing with second-seeded Mendon: Northwestern for their division’s championship in the elongated tournament, which saw its first-round games played way back on Feb. 6. The same schools decided last year’s CLAA tourney title with Southwest prevailing.

Wednesday’s losers will play for third place Thursday, starting with the girls at 4:30 p.m.

(G) Braymer 79, Norborne 77, 2 ot

After leading 32-28 at halftime, Braymer raised that to a 47-37 lead in the last minute of the third quarter, only to see a pivotal play shift the momentum to the Lady Pirates (16-3).

Playing for a presumptive final shot of the stanza, Braymer shot a bit early and when the ball caromed off the iron, junior forward Dallas Hall was called for an ill-advised fourth foul trying for the offensive rebound. She left the game for the first 2-plus minutes of the fourth quarter and then fouled out about a minute after returning, leaving her unavailable for what turned out to be about the last 12 minutes of action.

That was important because she and fellow forward Kennedy Stone – mostly Stone – combined to outscore NHS’ inside duo 29-9 on the night, most of that in the first three quarters.

Without Hall on the floor at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Norborne rapidly got back within one possession in the first three minutes, but the fourth seeds steadied themselves.

Even after Hall was disqualified, the Lady ’Cats (6-3) reestablished several multi-possession leads, including in the final minute of regulation time. However, an inability to stop O. Dooley, who missed several minutes of the first half with three fouls, inside or out and BHS’ 6-straight free-throw misses in the last minute of the fourth frame kept hope flickering for the favorites.

After the last of those six misses, with under 10 seconds to go in regulation time, kept the Braymer lead at 60-58, O. Dooley dribbled the ball upcourt and, just inside the lane, attempted a running shot just before crashing into a defender.

An official’s whistle sounded as the shot missed and, with 0.8 seconds remaining, the ruling on the block/charge situation went Norborne’s way, sending the sharp-shooting Lady Pirate to the foul line with a chance to tie the game and, effectively, force overtime. O. Dooley coolly hit both and the teams prepped for four extra minutes. They ended up getting twice that much.

With NHS down to four players, Braymer scored on several easy shots in the first couple of minutes of the overtime to again seize a multi-possessions lead. However, as fatigue seemed to hamper them more and more, some offensive impatience got them away from using ball movement to both drain time and help create easy shots.

That provided Norborne – and O. Dooley, in particular – with enough possessions to eventually erase the deficit with about 20 seconds left in the first OT. Braymer, following a timeout, executed well to develop a close-range shot with no defender in position to stop it, but the 3-footer missed with 3.5 seconds on the clock and another half-period was necessitated.

Norborne started the scoring this time around with a free throw, but Braymer soon countered with a deuce for the lead. After the Lady Pirates tied it, Braymer eased back in front and held a 75-72 margin with 45 seconds to go in  the second OT.

An O. Dooley deuce cut the lead to one with 28 seconds left, but sophomore Addyson Sweem sank two huge free throws with just under 25 seconds on the clock. Once more, Braymer couldn’t deny O. Dooley, whose tough, off-balance shot with 19 seconds showing not only found its way into the hoop, but came with a BHS foul. The Norborne star swished the free throw for her 16th point of the overtimes and 42nd of the game.

Once more, Braymer took a play-planning final timeout with just under 10 seconds to go and went with a quick-hitting drive from the left wing by Johnson into the open heart of the Norborne 4-players zone defense. When the shot from a few feet out dropped through the cords, the Lady ’Cats at last had a lead they’d protect.

Statistically, Braymer’s greater balance carried the day. Stone netted a team-high 21 points and Hawkins’ winner put her at 20. Hallie Russell’s 15, including four treys, also were critical, as were Sweem’s seven made free throws in 11 tries in the fourth quarter and the overtimes. Aside from her success, coach Joe Mallory saw his other players miss nine of 11 in the final 16 minutes.

For Norborne, Olivia Dooley’s Herculean effort saw her net a stunning 31 points after the start of the fourth quarter. Before she fouled out late in regulation time, her twin sister Kayla rang up 18 points.

(B) Southwest Livingston 80, Tina-Avalon 57

The favored Wildcats (13-4) surged in front 18-6 after one quarter, fended off a string of eight T-A points in a row that cut that lead to 18-14 with a 15-5 run, and, behind Patrick Warren’s game-high 31 points, had things pretty comfortably in hand the rest of the way, although the host Dragons did inch within 34-23 at halftime.

Beyond Warren’s 31 – believed to be his career-high, fellow senior guard Wesley Hughes and Chase Neptune provided 19 and 14, respectively. Reserve pivot Remington Woodcock, a burley 6’6” junior, came in to add another 10.

Tina-Avalon (7-12) received a hot shooting night itself from senior guard Trent Grossman. He fueled the Dragons’ attack with 26 points. Kylier Sturgeon tacked on 16 and Kaden Sturgeon 12. 

(G) Tina-Avalon 65, Southwest Livingston 28

Both teams had a devil of a time getting shots from the field to fall until the second quarter when, after the eventual winners had inched out to a 14-1 lead a couple of minutes in, suddenly SLHS’ Lady Wildcats (11-6) started filling up the basket.

In a span of under 70 seconds, they sank two deuces, a trey, and another deuce while blanking T-A. When another defensive hold gave the Ludlow-based girls possession again less than a minute later, they once more found the range from 2-points distance to close to within 14-12.

They never caught up, however.

Tina-Avalon (14-3) pushed out to a 22-17 halftime lead, then dominated the last 16 minutes, doubling its first-half total in the third quarter alone before firing in another 21 in the fourth to win with the “running clock” in use.

Scoring-wise, Lady Dragons sophomore guard Regan Crowe led the final-half onslaught with 18 of her game-high 20 points. Kadie Rounkles contributed 16, Haley Rucker 13, and Samantha Rounkles 12.

For Southwest, Lily Webb showed the way with 13 points.

(B) Mendon: Northwestern 60, Hale/Bosworth 48

After an unexpected run to last year’s tourney-championship game without injured post player Hunter Stockwell, the second-seeded Northwestern boys set up a title rematch with Southwest Livingston again in his absence.

After securing a 30-19 foothold at halftime, the Eagles (17-2) saw Hale/Bosworth clamber within five points in the middle of the third period before reopening solid daylight. Eventually, Northwestern put its fourth victory of the season over its nearest western rival on ice by pushing the margin close to 20 points in the final three minutes before the Cardinals (14-8) put on a too-late mini-spurt to get within 12 in the last half-minute.