ANGOLA — There’s an implicit trust that West Noble coach Dale Marano has in his senior point guard Lauren Burns. With less than a second remaining, and when Burns was fouled by Angola sophomore Janna Fee, sending the senior to the line to shoot three free throws while down two, Marano didn’t flinch.
The first clanked off the front of the rim, as cheers showered Central Gym. The senior swished the following two foul shots, forcing overtime against the Hornets, tied at 52 apiece after regulation minutes.
“There isn’t another person on our team I’d want taking those shots,” Marano said.
Marano’s trust in his lead guard was featured again, trailing by one point in the extra period. Burns raced the ball up the court, time quickly racing off the clock. Twelve seconds displayed as she crossed half court, 11 when she neared the three-point line. Ten seconds remained in the game when she began to drive past her defender and nine seconds were shown when she passed the ball into the visiting stands, overthrowing Megan Godfrey, who was spotted up for a corner three.
Angola ended the game with a pair of free throws, sealing a 59-56 overtime win against the Chargers on Dec. 18.
Burns exited the visiting locker room visibly upset, her face still red with emotion. Said Marano, though, the senior’s mistakes were never under the spotlight.
“We never brought them up,” he said, mentioning the missed free throw and the errant pass. “Lauren is a heck of a player, and the good she did for us far outweighed anything else.”
Angola senior Sarah Duvendack scored the final two of her game-high 20 points on the final overtime free throws. The forward also grabbed four rebounds and added six steals, making plays on all areas of the court for the home team.
Duvendack scored her first points of the night from the stripe as well. Following an early surge by the Chargers resulting in an 8-0 lead, the Hornets scored eight of the next 10, capped by Duvendack hitting a pair for her first points, drawing the game within two, 10-8.
Angola shot just a 2-of-7 clip during the opening stanza, but forced six Charger turnovers to keep the game close.
Duvendack struck again, this time from deep, to start the second. Her three-pointer handed the Hornets their first lead of the game, 11-10. Angola’s offensive struggles continued into the new period, shooting 3-of-7 from the field. The Hornets also allowed a plethora of second-chance opportunities to the Chargers, who feasted on the offensive glass and more than doubled the home team’s shot count, 15-7.
The Hornets turned the ball over six times in the second quarter, but seven points from Duvendack in the stanza kept her team close, including retaking the lead again at 18-17 before West Noble ended the half with three straight points.
“I told the girls at halftime, they played a good half of basketball as far as doing what we wanted to do,” said Angola coach Brandon Appleton. “We just had too many mental mistakes that cost us some points.”
The Hornet offense found its footing in the second half, retaking the lead in the third quarter and extending it to as many as 10 points early in the fourth when senior Reace Peppler scored two of her 15 points on a pair of foul shots.
A layup from Godfrey — who led West Noble with 12 points — drew the Chargers within a point, 51-50, before Angola made the front end of a one-and-one to take a two-point lead and, of course, before Burns went to the line.