Heels hold on to top DreamsPublished 5:06pm Monday, February 18, 2013
The Tar Heels had already locked up the regular season championship in the 8-10-year old division of the Washington Youth Basketball League, but if they wanted to keep their perfect record intact they would have to dig deep.
Minus Regan Heath and Ki’nyah O’Neal, the shorthanded Tar Heels trailed the Dreams by one point at the start of the fourth quarter before they pulled together to pull out a 16-15 victory and preserve their perfect record.
“We already sowed up the regular season championship, so in our last two games I have been telling the girls that they’re playing for an undefeated season,” Tar Heels coach Franz Holscher said. “That’s something real special. There are a lot of athletes that play their whole careers and don’t have an undefeated season.”
The Dreams gave the Tar Heels nightmares early on as they clamped down on defense, while Gabrielle Smith poured in four first-quarter points to take a 4-0 lead.
“We came out playing really good and aggressive,” Dreams coach Sam Crawford said. “I was tickled to death with the way they played.”
Smith was explosive the whole game as she would score 13 of the team’s 15 points.
“She’s a first-class player,” Crawford said. “She works real hard and she does everything she’s asked to do.”
In the second quarter it was the Tar Heels that got it done on defense as they shut out the Dreams and got on the board thanks to a Shijuana Holloway basket that cut the Dreams’ lead to 4-2 at halftime.
In the second half both teams got into rhythm on offense as the Tar Heels posted five points thanks to basket’s by Gracie Whitsell and Mary Emma Holscher and a free throw courtesy of Cassandra Sanchez.
However, Smith refused to let the Heels pull away and scored four points in the third to take an 8-7 lead into the fourth.
The Dreams would hold the lead until a Holscher free throw tied the score at eight. That basket would be followed by a Whitsell put-back at the 8:05 mark that lifted the Tar Heels to a 10-8 advantage.
“Gracie’s been getting better and better as the season’s gone along. Usually I rely on her to be a defensive stopper, but tonight, not only did she get some steals, she made some key baskets and I was real proud of her,” Holscher said. “Mary Emma is one of our key scorers and ballhandlers and she’s my daughter so I’m real proud of her.”
Holscher would score back-to-back buckets to cap off a 7-0 run that put the Tar Heels up 14-8 with five minutes left in the game. It was just enough time for Smith and the Dreams to threaten. Smith got hot and scored five straight points to get within one, 14-13, with a minute to go.
Just as it looked the Dreams were going to over take the Tar Heels, Shantaja Brown stepped up and converted a basket with :20 showing on the clock to preserve the lead and the win.
Dreams 4 0 4 7 — 15
Tar Heels 0 2 5 9 — 16
Gabrielle Smith 13, Destanyia Downing 2.
Tar Heels (16)
Shijuana Holloway 2, Mary Emma Holscher 7, Cassandra Sanchez 1, Gracie Whitsell 4, Shantaja Brown 2.