Carroll County’s tremendous season ended in heartbreak Saturday as Loudoun Valley rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to defeat the Lady Cavaliers 59-58 in overtime in a Group 4A State Quarterfinal in Christiansburg.
Loudoun Valley (21-4) never led in regulation and needed a buzzer-beater from Olivia Badura on the final play to send the game into overtime. Carroll County (23-4) had the ball with a chance to win in overtime, calling timeout with four seconds left under its own basket. The Cavs got the play they were looking for, but Mariah Carter missed in heavy traffic in the lane and Abigail Kennedy appeared to get grabbed on the rebound, but a whistle never came. Head coach Marc Motley refused to place any blame on the officiating crew, but said Saturday’s loss was an extremely difficult one to take.
“Just disappointment for the kids,” Motley said when asked what he was feeling after the game. “This group works so hard and I was about as confident with this group coming in here with the amount of work they put in. And don’t get me wrong, our kids played hard. It wasn’t for lack of effort. Loudoun Valley made plays in the last two-and-a-half minutes that were the difference in the game, and unfortunately it was just enough to get them over the hump.”
The first half was tight throughout. Carroll County led by eight early in the second quarter, but the Vikings pulled to within 27-25 at the break. A major factor in the first half, however, was foul trouble as Madi Dalton and Laken Alley both had to spend prolonged minutes on the bench.
“We didn’t start them in the third quarter and maybe played them a minute or so in the second quarter trying to just give somebody a break. But they didn’t get near the minutes they are used to,” Motley said.
Even so, the Cavalier bench has been strong all season and continued to play that way Saturday. Carroll led 31-28 midway through the third quarter when three consecutive 3-pointers staked the Cavs to a 12-point advantage after Carter sandwiched a shot from downtown between two Danielle Gallimore triples.
Carroll rushed a couple of 3-pointers late in the third, however, and the Vikings ended the period on a 6-1 run to get back in it at 43-36 heading into the final period. The Lady Cavs missed their first six shots from the floor in the fourth and Loudoun Valley was down just 45-44 with a chance to take the lead midway through the period.
Carroll responded with back-to-back baskets by Carter to go back up by five with 3:18 to play. The Cavs made two turnovers down the stretch and made just 4-of-11 free throws from that point on in regulation. After a Dalton free throw extended the lead to 53-51, Loudoun Valley called a timeout with 4.1 ticks remaining.
Carroll County had two fouls to give and Motley told his team to commit one in the backcourt. Badura broke free off of a screen on the inbound pass, however, and raced straight to the lane for a running 8-footer at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
“We were actually trying to foul them and couldn’t get the foul called then when we wanted it so we tried to foul and got ourselves out of defensive position. I guess maybe that is something I will have to change in my philosophy from now on, ‘You guys just get back on defense and guard the paint,’ I don’t know,” Motley said. “We were trying to foul them because we knew we had a couple of fouls to give and got a little high-ball screen right there and tried to foul them coming off of it, tried to grab and didn’t get the call and of course they got a lane to the bucket and we come over to help and they make a tough shot. Our kids played with tremendous effort tonight. Shots didn’t always go in for us at times but it wasn’t for our lack of effort.”
Badura’s basket a little over a minute into the overtime gave Loudoun Valley its first lead of the game at 55-53. Carter scored off an assist from Kennedy with 1:18 to play to put Carroll back in front 56-55, but Jordan Campbell responded 11 second later to put the Vikings on top by a point with a minute left.
Badura added two free throws with 37.6 seconds to play. Carroll’s Kenda Robinson got the hoop and the harm on a running jumper with 12.5 seconds left, but missed the free throw with a chance to tie at 59. The Vikings missed two free throws with 9.5 seconds left and Carroll called timeout with four seconds remaining to set up the final shot.
The refs swallowed the whistle on the play and also allowed Loudoun Valley to employ a very physical press in the fourth quarter to get the team back in the game. Motley took the high road in the post-game, though, refusing to talk about the officiating.
“Everybody wants to be up late in the game rather than down, but you can play a little bit freer when you are down than you can when you are up. We had that lead about 12 and we came down and missed a couple of shots and let them get back in it right there at the end of the third quarter,” Motley said. “We had some plays that didn’t go our way, and unfortunately that is the way the ball bounces sometimes. The kids did a super job on that last out-of-bounds play, something we have been working on all year long. They ran it perfect and it just didn’t go in. That is just what you want. I don’t blame it on the striped shirts. To me that would take away from what Loudoun Valley did. They are a really good basketball team and they made the plays down the stretch and did a little bit better job than we did in the last two or three minutes.”
Haley Pasqualone led all scorers with 22 points for Loudoun Valley. Badura added 12 points and Lee Volker scored 10 for the Vikings, who advanced to a state semifinal matchup with undefeated Millbrook. Carter’s 19 points led the Cavaliers, while Robinson scored 12 and Gallimore netted 11.
“I told the girls after the game I expect us to be right back here next year,” Motley said.
L. Valley 13 12 11 17 6 – 59
Carroll 16 11 16 10 5 – 58
Loudoun Valley – Badura 4 4-5 12, Volker 4 2-3 10, Hassan 1 0-0 2, Pasqualone 8 6-6 22, Campbell 4 1-1 9, Fink 1 0-1 2, Jackson 1 0-4 2. 3-pointers – None.
Carroll County – Easter 0 2-2 2, Dalton 2 3-4 7, Gallimore 3 2-8 11, Robinson 3 6-9 12, Alley 1 1-2 4, Carter 8 2-4 19, Kennedy 0 3-4 3. 3-pointers – Gallimore 3, Carter 1, Alley 1.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN