Zephyr girls get an exciting win
The Zephyr girls began the 2019-20 campaign with a Grace Clary three-pointer against visiting Northwestern High School, and then ended the game in dramatic fashion with another three by Clary who hit the game winner as time expired.
In between those bookend buckets, the senior was instrumental in securing that opening night win. Her three-pointer off the glass quieted a Tiger run early in the second that saw the visitors score seven unanswered points. Her steal under the Tigers’ basket and subsequent layup in the fourth, pushed their lead to six with about 4 minutes remaining. She was also pivotal in breaking the Tiger’s pressure, keeping the Zephs from committing costly turnovers.
She finished the game with 18 points, nailing four threes in the process.
The game seemed well in hand with the Zephyrs holding an 8-point lead with 1:38 left in the game. They had built that lead thanks to a strong third quarter, outscoring the Tigers 12-4 after intermission to take a 29-22 lead heading into the fourth quarter. They maintained a healthy cushion throughout most of the final stanza, and it appeared the game wouldn’t warrant any heroics. However, the Tigers made a late run, and once Ali Lister sank two free throws to tie the game at 38-38, the Zephyrs were now holding the ball with 9.8 seconds left in the game.
Clary drifted to the corner by the team’s bench, and once she received the ball, she rose up without hesitation and promptly sank the basket, sending the players into a jubilant scrum once the horn sounded.
“Ten seconds left, and all the pressure’s on you, and someone’s in your face, and I just kind of put it up and it went in,” said Clary. “We won the game.”
Clary said that she’s confident in her shot, and the senior said she felt good once it left her hand.
With the Tigers feeding off that late momentum, Clary knew they couldn’t give them another opportunity.
“I know we needed it, we were tied, and there was nothing to spare, so I put it up, and it went in,” Clary said.
Clary made some pivotal plays throughout the game. She said it was a style she was determined to play since it kept their energy up, knowing if she can be disruptive on defense, and productive on offense, they had a good shot of maintaining the lead they built up once the first quarter ended.
She said that the whole team was working hard and their effort paid off. It was a big win for the team.
Head coach Josh Madas said that the message to his players has been to bring the energy and intensity to the court.
“We challenged them this game to win every battle, whether it was a rebound, whether it was a shot, whether it was getting stops on defense, whatever it is, win more battles,” said Madas. “The more battles that we win, the more chances we have of winning the game.”
He said that girls executed that game plan well as they worked to limit the Tigers to one shot per possession. He felt they did a good job on the glass.
He felt they got a bit anxious at the end, allowing the Tigers to get back into the game. They put the Tigers on the foul line late, and that helped the visitors chip into the lead.
Madas also said that being in his second year as the coach has allowed him to institute a little more situational teaching. He said they were prepared for that final possession, and it was demonstrated by their composure in executing that game-winning play.
“That was the difference,” he said.
The Zephs also got an outstanding game from Cassie Due who finished the game with 11 points, including a three. Her floor generalship was also a big factor in getting that first win.
Olivia Hines did yeoman’s work in the post, finishing the game with six points. She was a big factor on the glass as well.
In perhaps the sweetest move of the night, Amaya Alvarez’s shot fake at the top of the key left her defender hanging in the air, allowing her to drive too the basket for the easy layup.