A 1-7 mid-season slide could have left Chaminade Julienne as an also-ran in the Division II girls basketball tournament field.
Instead, the energized Eagles will finish it as one of the top four teams in the state.
Sophomore Haleigh Shaw’s uncontested jumper just inside the 3-point line dropped through with 3.9 seconds left in overtime, lifting CJ to a frantic 47-45 regional championship win over rival Carroll on Friday. Carroll’s final shot bounced off the back of the rim at the buzzer.
Shaw wondered if her shot would even reach the rim.
“No, honestly I thought it was short,” Shaw said of her high-arching dagger from the baseline. “When I heard the crowd go wild I was so excited. … It’s the best feeling in the world right now.”
The Eagles’ mood wasn’t as jubilant prior to OT. Carroll (22-6) erased a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter. The Patriots forced overtime on senior Susan Wollenhaupt’s basket and free throw with 56 seconds left. Carroll then blocked CJ’s shot near the top of the key with two seconds left.
“We probably shouldn’t have even been in the game at the end but the girls fought hard,” Carroll coach Rob Berry said, referring to the Patriots’ 29 turnovers.
At one point during their regular-season struggles, the Eagles’ goal was to survive sectionals. Now CJ (19-9) plays Millersburg West Holmes (27-1) in the state semifinals at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
“We haven’t talked about state all year,” CJ coach Mandy Myers said. “We were hoping to get to district then we started playing better. … Our goal was to make it last as long as we can.”
This is CJ’s first state appearance since winning the D-I title in 2005 and seventh overall.
“We had a lot of heart,” said CJ senior Krista White, who scored a team-high 20 points and came up clutch playing the final 6:01 and OT with four fouls. “Coach told us if we played defense and got up on them they’d turn it over. We believed in our coaches.”