January 26th, 2011

Rockets' LIT Comeback Stuns Ballard In OT

Chris Jung

Senior Writer

Rockets' LIT Comeback Stuns Ballard In OT
photo by Chris Jung

Assumption overcomes 12-point deficit to win 56-53

With 2:03 remaining in regulation and Assumption High School trailing Ballard 47-35 in the first game of the 2011 Republic Bank/Coca Cola Girls Louisville Invitational Tournament on Tuesday afternoon, the Rockets took a desperation timeout.

But staring at such a daunting deficit and just minimal time remaining, the Rockets players didn't sulk or walk with its collective head hanging as they drug to the bench. Instead, they jogged, seemed jovial and at least let off the appearance that the game - and their LIT experience - was not over.

They were right.

Led by eight points in the fourth quarter by sophomore guard Dee Dee Sliter, including a 6-of-8 performance from the free throw line, Assumption staged a furious comeback, forced overtime on Sliter's banked-in basket with 27 seconds to go, and went on to stun the Bruins 56-53 at Bellarmine University's Knights Hall.

It was Assumption's determination that made the win possible. In a game that seemed to be bouncing in favor of Ballard throughout the contest, the Rockets hung around and never caved during a Bruin run.

In the first half, the Rockets almost had as many free throw attempts converted (11) as it did shots attempted from the field (16). Assumption's 11-of-12 output from the charity stripe countered a 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) shooting exhibition in the first half and was the product of the Rockets' gameplan to pound the ball inside. 

That job became somewhat simpler at the first quarter's 2:59 mark, as Ballard's Javonna Layfield picked up her third personal foul of the game.

In the second quarter, Assumption junior guard Becca Durbin's steal and layup with 5:23 to go before halftime gave Assumption a 12-11 lead. Then, with 3.2 seconds to go before halftime, sophomore Brandy Hunter drew a foul during a drive to the basket, knocked down two free throws and gave the Rockets a 17-16 lead at the break.

The shooting was much improved for both teams in third quarter, as Assumption and Ballard traded several ties and leads. Ballard did eventually take control, however, and despite the Rockets' first 3-pointer of the game from senior Maggie Hartlage with 5:23 to go in the third period, the Bruins would take its largest advantage of the game - the aforementioned 47-35 lead with just over two minutes remaining.

But that's when things became unraveled for Ballard.

Jaylan Bodiford, who played a masterful game and led all scorers with a 16-point, 16-rebound double-double, picked up a technical foul for taunting that sparked a 9-0 run for AHS. And when Assumption sophomore Katie Friedrich knocked down a pair of free throws with 1:19 to go in regulation, the Rockets found itself trailing by only three points, at 47-44.

Durbin's jumper cut the lead to 48-46 with 46 seconds to go and Sliter tied it on a great move on the left block with 27 ticks left on the clock.

Ballard quickly took control of the overtime period after Melena Shanklin's 3-pointer in the opening seconds, and the Bruins actually led 53-48 at one point. But Assumption would persevere again, as Hartlage's three-point play with 2:36 to go in OT tied the game at 53-53.

Hartlage would strike again with 1:02 remaining on what was possibly the game's "hustle play of the night." Off of her own three-point shot attempt, Hartlage got around defender, grabbed the rebound of her own missed shot, took another look at the basket from closer range and drew a foul on the attempt. She converted 1-of-2 free throws and gave the Rockets a lead they would not relinquish.

Sliter's two free throws - her seventh and eighth of the second half and overtime combined - would seal the game with 7.3 seconds remaining. She finished the game with 14 points. Ten of those came from free throws. As a team, Assumption finished 28-of-34 (82.4 percent) from the charity stripe

Hartlage, who was named the MVP of the game after the final horn, finished with 12 points, four rebounds and four steals. Friedrich and junior Morgan Foley combined for 14 points and 13 rebounds in contributing to the victory for Assumption.

It was Assumption's fifth win in its last six games. With Wednesday's LIT games postponed due to snow, the Rockets will now take on top-seed duPont Manual High School in second round play on Thursday at 6:30pm. That game will be played at Male High School, as Bellarmine basketball already had home schedules for Thursday on its floor.



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