The intense rivalry between Wesleyan and Holy Innocents’ brought the season to a close in epic fashion with an overtime finish in the 2A girls Basketball State Championship. These teams entered their fourth matchup this season for the state title, and Holy Innocents’ led the Wolves 2-1 in the previous three games. The Golden Bears took home the trophy this time with a final score of 66-64 in an unusual ending. Head Coach Tony Watkins ended his career at HIES with a championship.
The Wolves struggled early on, and Holy Innocents’ maintained a lead for the majority of the game. The Lady Wolves relied on sophomore Amaya Register who facilitated the ball well. Juniors Natalie Armstrong and Mikayla Coombs also played important roles putting up significant points and leading the charge on defense. Wesleyan managed to defend the Holy Innocents’ offense well, dominating the Golden Bears in the turnover battle, but could not score enough to take home the win.
Holy Innocents’ got ahead early and stayed there until late in the fourth when Wesleyan put together a run to tie the game. Sophomore Sutton West sealed the run with a clutch three to tie it up. In the waning seconds, an unnecessary foul led to three free throws for Holy Innocents’ Junior Shaiauna Blanding. Blanding went 0-3 to push the game into overtime with the score at 59-59.
Wesleyan got off to an early lead in overtime, bringing to score to 63-59. Register continued to lead the offensive effort in OT. With both teams in the bonus, foul shooting was paramount. The Golden Bears but together four quick points before Wesleyan Head Coach Jan Azar called timeout with a minute left in overtime.
Register was fouled and made one of two to go up by one, and the Golden Bears quickly responded taking the lead by one. With 30 seconds remaining, Blanding was fouled again and redeemed herself, making one of two. Blanding’s free throw proved to be enough as the Wolves were not able to inbound the ball successfully, and Holy Innocents’ won in the final seconds.
Though it was a disappointing loss for the Wolves, Wesleyan finished the season with a remarkable record of 27-5. The Lady Wolves had yet another great season in 2015-2016, and with an abundance of young talent, they will look to return in 2017 for another State Championship.