By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
As girls’ basketball teams from Western Alamance and Williams tried to gain separation on each other, there were late-game stretches of shot-making that seemed to defy odds.
Then Jai’nasia Bailey of Williams went to the free-throw line with 11.5 seconds remaining in the second overtime and scored the final three points as the host Bulldogs prevailed 80-79 in the Central Carolina 3-A Conference game Friday night.
Bailey’s foul shots might have been the calmest moment of the game.
“I make my free throws,” she said. “I wasn’t worried about that.”
Bailey went to the line after she launched a step-back 3-pointer from in front of her team’s bench and a foul was called.
“I get some space so I can shoot that 3,” she said of maneuver of dribbling beyond the arc with Williams trailing by two points.
Western (12-2, 2-1 Central Carolina 3-A Conference) managed a misfired 3-pointer at the buzzer as its eight-game winning streak ended.
“People got excited for girls’ basketball,” Western coach Sean Quinn said. “That’s what I’ll remember most about that game.”
With a near-capacity crowd worked into a frenzy by the late stages of regulation, it turned out memorable for both teams.
“I just keep playing.” Bailey said. “Stay focused. It was loud. We did it. Good energy from everybody.”
Williams girls (10-3, 3-1) have a three-game winning streak. This conquest might have been an unlikely result, but confidence brewed for the Bulldogs after they wiped out a 10-point halftime deficit.
“I challenged them early,” Williams coach Jason Cheek said. “Western is going to do what Western does. They’re a top team in the state for a reason. I had to remind our team, ‘We’re a good team, too.’ And we were able to prove that.”
In regulation, Western seemed in control with a five-point edge coming down the stretch, but Williams was even after Scout Winter’s runner at the 42-second mark.
Williams forged another tie on Briahna Scott’s drive, then Bailey stole the inbounds pass and sank two free throws.
Cayden White’s bucket off a rebound pulled Western even with 11 seconds left. Missed free throws at the other end resulted in an extra period.
Williams led 72-66 in the first overtime before Western’s first overtime field goal came on Allie Sykes’ 3-pointer with 31 seconds showing. She hit another 3-pointer with 13 seconds to go, extending the game again.
“The kids were resilient,” Quinn said. “Even the Williams kids.”
In the second overtime, Western went ahead on another White basket off an offensive rebound with 51 seconds left. Sykes made one of two free-throw attempts at the 23.6-second mark before Bailey finished the scoring.
“We had all sophomores out there at the end,” Quinn said. “They still struggle with maintaining a certain level for a whole game, and I have to help them with that. We can learn from this.”
With core players from both teams playing extended minutes, the impact of the fans’ almost-constant roars late in the game couldn’t be dismissed.
“You add in that atmosphere and that helped,” Cheek said. “You’re tired, and all of a sudden you’re not so tired.”
Bailey finished with 26 points and four assists, Winter had 15 points and 10 assists; Scott posted 13 points and 10 rebounds; Regan Averett provided 11 points; and Jordyn Taylor had 10 points.
For Western, Sykes tallied 21 points; Tina Bowers poured in 19 points; Bri Pulliam added 14 points; and White ended up with nine points.
“I need to go take about a 20-hour nap,” Cheek said.
See the last possession of the second overtime here, in which Western falls short:
In the boys’ game, Milton Turner scored seven of his 10 points after Williams fell behind in the fourth quarter to help rescue the Bulldogs in a 51-47 decision.
Western (1-13, 0-3) scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter to go up 43-40. Turner posted the next seven points on three baskets in the lane, the last of those resulting in a three-point play. The Bulldogs made it a 10-0 run on Greysen McCadden’s 3-pointer.
Brian Williams finished with 13 points for Williams (6-7, 2-2), which won for the fourth time in its last five games. McCadden and Cam’ron Jones both had eight points.
Kris Barnwell’s nine points and Joey Peterson’s eight points paced Western, which lost for the fifth time by four points or less.