MINT HILL, NC – The closest game the Zebulon B. Vance girls’ basketball team had played this season came Saturday night in the Elite 8 round of the North Carolina state basketball tournament played at Zebulon B. Vance High School.
The number 1 seed Lady Cougars made two foul shots with 4.2 seconds left in overtime for a 63-61 win over the number 12 seed Independence Lady Patriots. Indy’s head coach Lauren Galvani said that she, “Couldn’t be more proud of these Lady Patriots after falling short in overtime 63-61 in the Elite 8 to Vance. The seniors left it all out there and the underclassmen stepped up after losing senior point guard Averie DiBenedetto to a knee injury in the Rocky River game.”
Jessica Timmons led the Lady Patriots with a double-double scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 boards. She also had 2 assists and 1 steal. Braylyn Milton poured in 22 points, had 3 rebounds, 3 assists,1 steal and 1 blocked shot. Kaylee Carson scored 8 points, pulled down 5 rebounds, had 4 assists and 3 steals. Gracie Breckenridge added 4 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and blocked 5 shots. Chloe Moss had 3 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal.
The Lady Patriots started the game on a 3-pointer by Jessica Timmons and a foul shot by Kaylee Carson to take a 4-0 lead. Vance came back and tied the score and took the lead at 7-4 with 4:25 left in the period. Gracie Breckenridge pulled Indy back within one 7-6 on a jumper from the foul line. With 3:21 showing on the clock, Indy’s Jessica Timmons put the Lady Patriots in the lead 8-7 on a mid-range jumper. Vance re-took the lead 9-8 with 45 seconds left in the quarter. But as the buzzer sounded, Jessica Timmons nailed a 3-pointer and the Lady Patriots led 11-9 at the end of the quarter.
The Lady Cougars scored the first five points of the second quarter on a 3-point basket and a layup to regain the lead 14-11. With 6:02 left in the half, Jessica Timmons tied the score scoring on an inbounds pass and hitting a free throw to tie the score 14-14. After Gracie Breckenridge scored, Chloe Moss pulled down an offensive rebound and scored putting Indy up 18-14.
After Vance tied the score 18-18 at the 3:50 mark, Indy went on a 7-0 run. Braylyn Milton started the run with a jumper followed by a Kaylee Carson 3-pointer. Braylyn Milton scored on a fast break putting Indy up 25-18. At the 1:15 mark, Vance was whistled for a foul on Indy’s Chloe Moss. Immediately the Lady Cougars’ head coach Donnell Rhyne seriously objected to the call and received a technical foul for his disagreement with the referee. After Moss made one of her two foul shots, Jessica Timmons was called on to shoot the technical and made both of her free throws. Indy then got the ball out-of-bounds, and Braylyn Milton scored to put the Lady Patriots up 30-23. Vance went to the line with 15.2 seconds showing on the clock. The shooter made her first shot but missed the second shot and Indy came down with the rebound. As the buzzer sounded, Braylyn Milton pulled up and drained a 3-pointer to give Indy a 33-24 lead at the end of the first half. Vance started the third quarter with a 7-0 run to cut Indy’s lead to two points 33-31. Jessica Timmons finally got Indy on the board by making a free throw at the 4:07 mark.
In the final 1:56 Braylyn Milton poured in eight points to put the Lady Patriots in the lead 42-41 at the end of the third quarter. The Lady Cougars scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to take a 46-42 lead. Indy’s Jessica Timmons answered with an old fashion three-point play cutting the lead to one point 46-45. Braylyn Milton put the Lady Patriots back on top with a baseline 3-pointer with 4:34 left in the game. From that point on, it was a back and forth game. With 56 seconds left to play, Vance was trailing 53-52 and tied the score 53-53 on a free throw.
Jessica Timmons hit a runner putting Indy in the lead 55-53 with 37 seconds showing on the clock. Once again Vance tied the score at 55 all with 33.6 seconds left in the game. After calling at time out, the Lady Patriots set up a play for the last shot. The shot bounced off the rim as the game came to an end with the score tied forcing four-minute overtime. The overtime period was a hard-fought back and forth contest with neither team taking more than a two-point lead. In the last minute of the period, Indy’s Kaylee Carson scored on a mid-range jumper to put Indy up 59-58. After Vance had tied the score hitting one of two free throws, Kaylee Carson put Indy back on top 61-59 by sinking two free throws with 46.7 seconds left in the overtime period. After Vance tied the score with twenty-five seconds showing on the clock, Indy quickly got the ball inbounds and was rushing the ball down the court when the scoreboard and game clock stopped working and brought the game and Indy’s drive to a stop with 18.5 seconds left to play. Once the scoreboard problems were corrected, the Lady Patriots got the ball out of bounds at mid-court. The unofficial time out gave Vance time to set up a pressure defense which caused problems for the Lady Patriots. With 10.1 seconds left in the game, Indy’s coach Lauren Galvani called for a timeout. On Indy’s in-bounds pass Vance intercepted the pass and started down the floor. Indy fouled with 4.2 seconds showing on the clock putting the Lady Cougars on the line shooting two free throws. Vance made both of its charity tosses and took the lead to win the battle 63-61 and advance to the final four.
Independence 11 22 9 13 6 – 61
Vance 9 15 17 14 8 – 63