South Side’s Lakyn Gulley had plenty on her mind as she stepped to the free-throw line Saturday with a chance to win the Class 4A sectional championship.
She blocked out all distractions and made two free throws with 2.5 seconds left to lift South Side to a 54-53 win over host Homestead.
I was nervous, and I didn’t want to miss it, Gulley said. There was a lot going through my mind, but I knew I could do it for my team. I had to make it for us to go to the next round.
Homestead’s Lindley Kistler had hit a pair of free throws with 5 seconds remaining for a 53-52 Spartans’ advantage.
After a timeout, Homestead was called for a foul, resulting in a 1-and-1 situation for Gulley.
South Side senior DeJoyah Johnson said she believed in Gulley to make the free throws.
I was shocked it happened because I didn’t see it, but I am glad someone else did, South Side coach Juanita Goodwell said of the foul call. As soon as it happened, I knew Lakyn is a clean shooter, and that’s what she does well. I was glad she was on the line.
Kistler missed a long three-pointer at the buzzer for the Spartans.
South Side shot only seven free throws in the game, five by Brittni Clopton and the two by Gulley, missing only one.
We wanted to hang on to that 10-point (32-22 halftime) lead, but I just wanted my girls to stay fighting, Goodwell said. The fact the girls hung on, I am just very proud of them right now.
With the win, South Side (21-3) avenged a regular-season loss in similar fashion, 81-80 Dec. 11 at Homestead (21-4).
We wanted to get them back right after we lost, Gulley said. We knew we could get them back. We played bad in the first game, and we came out tough in the second game.
Johnson led the Archers with 15 points, while Gulley and Simmons each had 10. South Side has won two straight sectional championships and six since 2007.
We know how important it is to win this game to move on so we are happy about it, Johnson said. It’s my senior year, so I just went out like it was going to be my last game.
Sydney Buck had 17 points for Homestead, and Josie Fisher and Kistler each finished with 14.
After getting to within two points a couple of times in the second half, the Spartans finally came all the way back with a 51-50 advantage with 55 seconds left on a three-pointer by Buck.
Homestead outscored South Side 31-22 in the second half.
I was nervous, Johnson said of Homestead’s comeback. But I knew we would get it in the end because we have heart. We weren’t going out without a fight, so we gave them our best. We didn’t stop playing, and that was the result.