The game was tied at 69 with 37 seconds left. The St. Thomas Tommies and the Algonquin Thunder were both playing to go to the women’s basketball CCAA national championship finals. It was close, but earlier the game looked much different.
St. Thomas had been struggling with their offense early. They dug themselves a hole and were down by 18 at halftime. Algonquin looked poised to breeze through the rest of the game.
Tommies Coach Fred Connors needed to fire his team up at half, or their hopes of a gold medal would be gone.
“If we believe in each other we are going to win, and everyone will remember the greatest comeback in our league history,” Connors told his team at halftime.
Algonquin had the ball with 37 seconds left. Kelly Vass and Lindy MacDonald of the Tommies doubled the ball, and it seemed like Vass got the steal, but was called for a foul. Vass played well for the Tommies, getting a triple double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. With 17 seconds left, Felicia Mazerolle of the Thunder tried to take the lead with a layup, but the Tommies defense changed her shot and forced the miss.
Forcing misses and strong defense was what got the Tommies back in the game. St. Thomas went on a strong run in the third quarter, outscoring the Thunder 24-10, only trailing by two going into the fourth. By then, it was anybody’s game.
“We definitely had dug ourselves a bit of hole,” said Lindy MacDonald. “But I never for a minute lost faith in the team to be able to dig ourselves out.”
After the missed lay-up by Algonquin, Carissa McTague of the Tommies was fouled going for the loose ball, and had a chance to take the lead at the free throw line. With 13 seconds left and a tie game, McTeague missed both her shots.
Then, in a scramble for the ball, Tommie Ashley Bawn came up with it. She quickly kicked out to MacDonald, who was standing wide open at the three point line. She took the shot.
“It looked good from my angle,” said MacDonald as she recalled the ball leaving her fingertips. “But I actually fumbled it before I shot it so it didn’t feel great.”
But it was great.
“I knew when she released it, it was in,” said Connors.
With six seconds left, the Tommies had the lead.
“That’s definitely the biggest shot I’ve ever made in my basketball career,” said MacDonald.
Algonquin tried for a desperation shot at the buzzer, but it didn’t fall. The Tommies won the semi-final game 72-69. That put STU in the finals on Saturday at 9:30 p.m., where they will play the defending champions Montmorency Nomades for the national championship.
“Tomorrow is going to be a great challenge. They are defending national champs, but we are up for the challenge,” said Connors.
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