EL CENTRO – The Calexico Lady Bulldogs edged the Lady Spartans 19-18 in a Summer League heart-stopper that was decided by a clanked free throw with no time remaining on the clock July 6 at Southwest High in El Centro.
In the first half, the Lady Bulldogs pounced on Central with a pull-up jumper from the left side that resulted in an early 3-0 lead due to the unique summer session free throw rules.
Summer league rules state that if a foul occurs on a made shot, then the basket counts as three points and no free throws are required. A foul on a missed basket results in one free throw attempt that counts for two points.
The Lady Spartans responded with crisp ball movement that penetrated the Calexico full court press and resulted in a wide open central lay-in to make it 3-2.
After an exchange of layups and putbacks, the Lady Bulldogs took a 9-6 lead with a driving floater from the left baseline.
Central hit a free throw and made a last minute push with a slashing banker that beat the buzzer to steal the 10-9 lead at the half.
The first nine minutes of the second half displayed both teams’ defensive intensity and quick hands as they matched steals in the back court.
In a 15-10 hole, the Lady Spartans remained poised and continued to utilize the extra pass to find the open player.
Central knocked down a free throw and nailed a three-point set shot off the glass to knot things up at 15, all with 11 minutes remaining.
Riding the momentum, the Lady Spartans grabbed an offensive board and made a putback and-one to go up three points at 18-15.
Calexico answered back with a zig-zagging floater down the middle to make it a one possession game at 18-17.
With 50 seconds to go in the game, Calexico reclaimed a 19-18 lead on a made free throw.
With the final seconds ticking away, the Lady Spartans had one more possession. As Central drove the ball into the lane, a shot at the buzzer fell short due to a foul on the release.
With no time left and an empty court, the Spartan free thrower was on an island with the game on the line.
On perfect line with the basket, it appeared the ball would splash in, but the treacherous back iron claimed another victim as the ball deflected off the rim and Calexico secured the 19-18 victory.