Last second three-point basket wins it for Red Devils
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Every possession mattered. Every shot, every rebound. The game – Tuesday night’s Grayling vs. East Jordan varsity girls basketball contest – came down to the final seconds, and the Red Devils won it by one point, 37-36, with a three-point shot just before the fourth quarter buzzer.
East Jordan – the visiting team – led 8-5 after the first eight minutes of regulation. Grayling scored its five points in the first period with a drive by Esa Powers, a jump shot by Isabel Duba, and one free throw from Vanessa Nielson.
Grayling scored first in the second quarter with a jumper by Powers. East Jordan hit a three-pointer at the 5:28 mark. Emma Mertes scored for the Vikings. The Red Devils hit two of two from the free throw line. East Jordan led 13-9.
Grayling outscored the Red Devils 10-0 during the last 4:33 of the second period. The Vikings were able to generate energy and points from their full court pressure defense, scoring all 10 points during the run in the paint (three baskets by Powers, two by Madison Longendyke).
At halftime, the score was Grayling 19, East Jordan 13.
The Vikings extended their scoring run to 14-0 with a jump shot by Mertes and a put-back by Powers early in the third period.
A 6-0 run by East Jordan cut Grayling’s lead from 10 to four, 23-19. Mertes hit one of two from the line. At the 2:01 mark, the Vikings scored on a jump shot by Mertes. East Jordan made one of two free throw attempts. Neither squad scored in the final 1:45 of the third quarter.
Going into the fourth period, the Vikings led 26-20.
Grayling scored first in the fourth quarter with a drive by Abby Pippin. East Jordan scored six unanswered points with two inside shots and two free throws to pull within two, 28-26. Mertes made one of two free throw shots. With 5:19 left in regulation, Mertes scored on an inside shot. East Jordan hit two free throws. Grayling missed two free throws. Pippin made one of two from the line. The Red Devils scored on a drive to the basket to pull back within two with 4:05 remaining.
After more than two scoreless minutes, Grayling got two points with a drive by Pippin. East Jordan hit two free throws at the 1:11 mark. The Vikings led 34-32.
Grayling shot from three-point range, missed, and the Vikings grabbed the rebound. East Jordan fouled and Powers made one of two from the line.
At the other end, the Red Devils drew a foul and hit both free throws. The Vikings led by one with 23 seconds left in the game.
Grayling passed the ball deep to beat East Jordan’s full court pressure and the Red Devils fouled on a lay-up attempt by Duba. She hit one of two from the free throw line, putting the Vikings up by two with 21 seconds left in the fourth period.
East Jordan hit a three-point shot with two seconds left in regulation, giving the Red Devils a 37-36 lead.
Grayling tried to pass deep on the in-bounds play but the ball hit the batting cage net at the ceiling. Out of bounds. East Jordan ball. The Vikings forced a tie-up on the in-bounds pass play, giving Grayling possession with 0.6 seconds left in the game. The Vikings got the ball in bounds but their final long distance shot was well short and East Jordan won 37-36.
“It was a hard fought game and tough loss against East Jordan tonight. The girls showed amazing intensity and defensive pressure,” Coach Dan Brandt said. “I’m proud of the way we are progressing and improving each practice and through the first four games.”
Fourth quarter free throw shooting was a significant factor in the outcome of the game. East Jordan made 8 of 12 attempts from the line down the stretch and Grayling was 4 for 13.
Powers finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds for Grayling. Mertes had 10 points and four rebounds. Pippin had five points. Longendyke had four points and 11 rebounds.
The East Jordan game was the first Lake Michigan Conference contest for the Vikings this year.
Tuesday’s game was Grayling’s last one before the holiday break. The Vikings (1-3 overall, 0-1 league) will resume their 2018-2019 schedule with a conference game at Harbor Springs on Friday, January 4.