ANDERSON — For the second time in four days Tuesday, city and conference girls basketball rivals Anderson Prep and Liberty Christian faced off, this time on the home court of the Lions.
Although the game required extra time, the result was very much the same as the Jets held off a comeback by the Lions and posted a landmark victory for the program.
Senior Savannah Prewett scored 26 points, and sophomore Kaliyah Armstrong converted key free throws at key times as APA edged LC 72-68 in overtime.
For APA (11-7) it was the 10th win on the court this season, with win number 11 coming earlier in the season by forfeit, marking the first time in the program’s history the Jets have reached double digits in the win column. It also guaranteed the Jets second place in their Pioneer Academic Athletic Conference division.
“We wanted to place higher in the conference,” APA coach Jessica Hornocker said. “We didn’t put a number to it, but we knew we wanted to improve. It’s definitely the highest we’ve ever finished.”
The win comes on the heels of a 67-60 win over the Lions on Saturday in the seventh-place game of the Madison County tournament, also a first in program history.
“County was great, that we won that (game),” Hornocker said. “But it doesn’t count for much, other than for us to feel good winning a county game. This is the one that counted for conference. We knew it is extremely hard to win two games in a row against the same team and two teams that are about as perfectly matched as they can be. The two teams are very similar.”
This game proved to be very hard to win.
The hot early shooting of Prewett, who was 7-of-12 from the field in the first half, propelled the Jets to a six-point lead on three occasions. But each time, LC (2-15) came back, usually thanks to 6-foot senior Elena Tufts. She gave the Lions a 29-27 lead with a basket late in the second quarter, but APA senior Madison Stamm sank a pair of free throws to tie the game at halftime.
The third quarter was controlled early by the Jets. A 3-point basket by Prewett capped a 13-4 run and APA had its biggest lead at 49-37.
But the Lions scored the final eight points of the period — five from Tufts and a Mady Rees 3-point basket — to pull back within four heading to the fourth.
The effort by LC and refusal to give up served the Lions well in the fourth quarter as well.
“We did what we had to do,” LC coach Todd Hill said. “It’s just getting over the top.”
After Armstrong scored in the paint and followed with a pair of free throws for a 61-58 lead, it was Tufts who scored on the block to trim the lead to one before LC freshman Shameel Clervrain hit one of two at the foul line to force overtime.
Hill said the game never should have come down to overtime.
“I swear we had to have missed 15 layups,” he said. “We hit those layups, and this isn’t even a game, and I mean no disrespect.”
Twice in overtime, Clervrain gave LC the lead, at 63-61 on a layup and 64-63 on a free throw.
But Prewett sank a go-ahead 3-point basket, her third trey, to put APA up to stay at 68-66. The Jets, highlighted by a pair of free throws from Armstrong to clinch the game, were 8-of-14 at the foul line in overtime, which was just enough.
“She’s just a sophomore. I think we forget that since she played so much as a freshman,” Hornocker said. “It was huge to step up and have that pressure on her.”
The loss spoiled a huge night for Tufts, who finished the night with 28 points and 17 rebounds for the Lions. Junior Jayma Morrow scored 17 points and had nine rebounds while Clervrain added 11 points.
Along with Prewett, Stamm added 19 points and nine rebounds, and senior Tommya Davis scored 18 points and had six assists before fouling out. Armstrong finished with eight points and nine rebounds.