By PATRICK CASEY
The Walton Lady Braves pulled off an unlikely rally at Ponce de Leon on Thursday night as the Braves picked up a 49-45 victory over the Pirates in triple overtime.
Walton held a 38-35 lead in the fourth quarter only to see Pirates senior August Brown drill an NBA-range three point shot to knot the score and send the game into overtime with two seconds to play.
Walton won the jump ball to start the first overtime and missed a pair of shots with Pirates head coach Tim Alford electing for his troops to hold the ball for more than three minutes of the four minute overtime in order to take the last shot of the extra frame. Senior Hannah Howell got an open look from the three-point line as the final seconds ticked away but her attempt was just deep enough to rebound off of the back side of the rim and send the game to a second overtime.
The Pirates took advantage of a Walton turnover to put the first basket on the scoreboard as Howell dropped in a shot for a 40-38 lead. August Brown turned another Walton turnover into a basket for a 42-38 lead with Walton center Krista McQueen making one out of two free throws to trim the margin to 42-39 seconds later. Howell responded with another basket on the interior to push the lead to 44-39 but Walton forward Kayla Jackson came up with a rebound basket of her own to get the Braves within 44-41.
Walton burned a timeout and then fouled point guard Brittany Chapman, who missed the front end of a one-and-one. Walton grabbed the rebound and raced down the floor only to have the ball knocked out of bounds. Walton coach Jerry Hester burned another timeout to set up a three-point shot attempt and, when play resumed, he was rewarded. Center Krista McQueen was able to shake loose behind the three-point line and promptly drilled the game-tying shot with 23 seconds left.
PDL once again took the clock down and Howell missed a three-point attempt with Taylor West grabbing the rebound only to have two shot attempts blocked by Jackson and Deja Tucker to send the game to a third overtime session.
Neither team scored in the third overtime for the first 150 seconds with Tim Alford burning a timeout with 90 seconds left to set up a play. The Pirates ran the clock down to 43 seconds and had to use another timeout as they were unable to find a shooting opportunity. PDL got the ball into Howell only to have McQueen strip the ball away and then trip over Howell, resulting in a foul on the Pirates. McQueen spent a few moments on the floor stretching before jumping up and heading to the line where she made two free throws for a 46-44 lead.
Brittany Alford was fouled on a lay-up attempt on the Pirates’ next possession and made the first free throw but missed the second as Tucker grabbed the rebound for the Braves and was immediately fouled with 13 seconds left in the game. The Walton junior then made two free throws to stretch the margin to 48-45.
Howell took another three pointer in an attempt to tie the game but the shot would not fall and Walton guard Caretha Paul grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 2.5 seconds to go. Paul missed the first free throw but made the second and Walton knocked away the half court inbounds pass to claim an emotional win.
Neither team ever led by more than five points as Howell scored 29 for the Pirates with McQueen leading the Braves with 18.
The Pirates led 11-10 after the first quarter, 24-23 after the second and the two squads were tied at 32-all after three quarters of play.
Both teams could have put the game away at the line but Walton hit only 6-of-11 at the charity stripe while the Pirates made just 11-of-22.
The two teams have split the last 34 meetings with overtime games a consistent theme.
Walton improved to 14-9 with the victory while PDL fell to 14-10.
Team Notes: Walton won the junior varsity contest 46-26. The Lady Braves are 12-3 in their last 15 overtime games. Tim Alford is 9-3 in overtime contests as the Pirates head coach with two of those losses coming against Walton. Walton fell to Niceville 39-33 on Jan. 21 but rebounded to squash Panama City Arnold 63-27 on Friday night. The Lady Braves are 15-9 entering this week’s district tournament, which they host on Friday and Saturday night. PDL defeated Cottondale 53-23 on Saturday night for a Homecoming victory and a 15-10 record.
By PATRICK CASEY