Gadsby great at free-throw line in OT thriller
There was little elegance in the team effort, but Melissa Gadsby made some pretty free throws to lead her team to victory on Tuesday night.
In a nailbiter Northern 3A league matchup at Truckee High School, Gadsby went 6 for 6 from the free-throw line in overtime to propel the girls” varsity Wolverines basketball team to a 44-42 victory over rivals North Tahoe Lakers.
After Truckee’s Deverie Hewitt hit a baseline jumper with under a minute to play to tie the game at 40, North Tahoe answered with two free throws to take a 42-40 lead. This set the stage for Gadsby’s heroics when she went to the free-throw line with 18.6 seconds remaining.
“I was pretty confident (at the line) because I had been doing well in practice,” she said. “But when I got to the line and it sunk in that we were down by two, I got pretty nervous.”
Despite her jitters, Gadsby sent the Truckee home crowd into a frenzy by netting two free throws to tie the game, 42-42. After inbounding the ball, the Lakers were called for traveling. On Truckee’s inbound play, the ball found Gadsby again, who was quickly fouled and sent to the line with 8.3 ticks left.
“I told (my team) to foul if they could stop the clock with 10 seconds left,” said North Tahoe head coach Dave Hibbett. “I thought if we put them on the free-throw line, we could get the ball back and control our own destiny.”
Gadsby was determined to make the Lakers do so down by two. She found comfort through her supporting cast.
“I looked at our bench, and I could tell the girls and the crowd were behind me,” she said. Gadsby sunk both free throws, making her 8 for 8 in the game from the line.
Unfortunately for North Tahoe, Hibbett’s plan backfired. After Gadsby made both free throws, the Lakers inbounded the ball to Kailey Rowan, who drew a foul as she brought it up court.
But before Rowan could shoot her first free-throw for a chance to push the game into a second overtime, the Lakers were struck with a lane violation.
Without one of the two free throws necessary to tie the game, Rowan purposely missed the second shot, then watched as teammate Virginia Munsterman’s follow-up attempt bounced off the rim and the buzzer sounded.
“We wanted to take the risk,” Rowan said. “It was just tough that we lost the first shot (on the free-throw).”
On Truckee’s side, it was reason to celebrate, after a dismal 2002-2003 season that did not feature many positives.
“It will definitely help our confidence level, since it was pretty low last year,” said Gadsby, who led Truckee scorers with 16 points. “To beat North Tahoe, who we were kind of intimidated by, it’s a big win for us.”
Truckee, who only won a few league games last season, is coming off its second straight victory. Last Friday, Truckee beat Sparks (playing as an independent this season) 51-21. Gadsby was the leading scorer in that game as well, scoring 14 on three three-pointers.
In a slow-tempo game, especially during the first three quarters, that featured many missed shots and sloppy ball handling, the Wolverines were glad to escape with the victory. Luckily for Truckee, North Tahoe played to their level.
“At first we weren’t playing our game, but we finally pulled it together and won.” said Felicia Tenorio, who scored eight points in the game. Tenorio was nervous watching Gadsby’s free throws, but she had confidence in her teammate’s shooting abilities.
“I was thinking, ‘Please make them,'” Tenorio said, “but it was a good situation because Melissa is our best free throw shooter.”
If it wasn’t for Tenorio, Gadsby may have never got her chance to shine in overtime. It was Tenorio who found the ball, after a long inbound pass bounced around for a short time, and hit a short jumper to tie the game at 34 with eight seconds left in regulation.
The Lakers were able to muster a desperate halfcourt shot, but the ball did not hit the rim, sending the game into overtime. With North Tahoe student fans chanting “Truckee sucks” with under a minute to play, the Wolverines answered their critics, just barely, in the end.
Tenorio also excelled defensively, holding Rowan to one of her lowest point totals of the season – 14.
“She did a great job defending Kailey,” said Truckee head coach Angelo Tenorio. “(Rowan is) not someone you’re going to shut down, but Felicia stayed in front of her and made her work.”
Coach Tenorio chose the right scheme to ignite his team to overcome a 19-12 halftime deficit in the game.
“We changed defense to a 2-3 zone to try and take away their inside game,” coach Tenorio said. “The girls gained confidence by getting some rebounds and making some stops. That led to some points on offense because the girls were more relaxed.”
Truckee hosts Fernley on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Tripp Mickle of the Tahoe World contributed to this article.