Langley senior Olivia Augustini missed some key free throws down the stretch yesterday, but no one will remember that. Instead, everyone at Bishop O’Connell’s gym will remember the beautiful pass Augustini threw to cutting senior Sarah Van Houten on the game’s final play. Van Houten’s lay-up went through as time expired, and Augustini’s Saxons had themselves a dramatic 48-47 victory.
“I saw the open man and just got a hitter,” Augustini said after the game. “The play didn’t go exactly right, but she was open.”
Really not much went exactly, or even close to right for the Saxons (7-0) in the fourth quarter. They blew a 39-28 lead, and trailed for the first time all game with under 20 seconds left after a steal and two free throws by O’Connell junior guard Brie Perpignan. Then, facing relentless full-court pressure from the Knights, the Saxons almost turned the ball over before calling time out with about eight seconds left to set up a final shot, shown below.
“The play broke down,” Saxons coach Amanda Baker said after the game. “Olivia had her head up and Sarah realized she was open and they did the right thing. The whole five that were out there–they read what was open. They found the open man and I couldn’t be happier for all of them.”
Early on it looked like Langley might surprisingly coast to a road victory over the talented Knights (3-6). The Saxons’ offense cut through O’Connell’s man-to-man like butter. The eventual winning play was foreshadowed when Augustini found Van Houten for an open look to give Langley a 10-3 lead. The Saxons grew the lead to 13-3 on a three-pointer soon after, and O’Connell coach Aggie McCormick-Dix took a timeout and switched her team to a zone.
The game tightened soon after that good move by McCormick-Dix. O’Connell went on a 11-2 run to close the first quarter and frustrated the Saxons by smothering them from the arc in. Langley did adjust eventually and played some good defense of its own, holding O’Connell to five second quarter points en route to a 24-19 halftime lead.
In the third quarter both teams adjusted their strategy again, with Langley going to a zone and O’Connell returning to man-to-man. The Saxons once again were fairly effective at getting good looks, while the Knights struggled to find consistent offense. Langley took a comfortable 37-27 lead into the fourth quarter.
That’s when O’Connell, and in particular Perpignan, started to turn up the heat on Langley. The Knights’ defense got far more aggressive and forced turnovers left and right. The aggressiveness paid off, as O’Connell got to the free throw line repeatedly. Perpignan was particularly proficient at forcing steals late and getting to the line. She scored most of her 17 points in the fourth quarter and made nine free throws overall–more than the entire Langley team.
“We knew she was going to give us trouble,” Baker said of Perpignan. “Her speed really started to hurt us; one reason we went to zone was to hide some of our foul trouble and try and limit her drives.”
The Knights defense was good all around, but Perpignan really did put on a show. Her steal and bucket brought the Knights to within 41-34 with around four minutes left. She then made another steal and dished to junior Shaileen Woods to make it 41-36. A few minutes later Perpignan made two free throws and scored on a pass from Woods to make it 45-42, Saxons. Next, after two missed free throws from Augustini, Perpignan found freshman Maikya Simmons open from three to tie the game at 45.
Finally, after Augustini went to the line again and hit one of two, Perpignan concluded her magnificent quarter by stealing the ball yet again and getting fouled going to the rim. Perpignan calmly nailed two free throws to give O’Connell the 47-46 lead, and it appeared the Knights were headed to victory. Until it turned out that they weren’t.
Augustini (nine points, five assists, five boards) had an excellent all-around game to lead the Saxons, but she had plenty of help. Elizabeth Bucy was strong down low with 12 points and nine rebounds. Fellow senior Ellie Buckley also contributed 12 points on efficient 5-7 shooting from the field. Leading scorer on the year Jordyn Callaghan only had six for Langley, but she was invaluable handling the ball against O’Connell’s pressure late.
The young Knights, who only have one senior, also were aided by Perpignan’s five assists. Junior forward Shawn Mills had eight points, Woods six, and sophomore Anna Hovis had a nice game off the bench with five points and seven rebounds. Despite the loss McCormick-Dix’s team had a lot to be proud of considering its strong comeback.
But in the end, this was Langley’s day. A day that will be remembered by Coach Baker and her players for a long time.
stats are unofficial
|O’Connell 3’s: Simmons 1-3, Knauf 1-2, Woods 0-6, Perpignan 0-2, James 0-1, Leverone 0-3|
|Langley 3’s: Augustini 2-4, Buckley 1-1, Callaghan 0-3, Shively 0-1|