PRAIRIE GROVE -- Freshman Jasmine Wynos' driving bucket while falling forward lifted Prairie Grove to a 54-52 upset of highly-touted Gravette in 4A-1 girls basketball Jan. 23.
The play capped a wild sequence while both coaches experienced elation and disappointment as the ball was batted into the backcourt and bounced around with both teams scrambling to retrieve the elusive prize pumpkin.
Prairie Grove led from the second quarter on until a 13-1 run by Gravette that started in the last 25 seconds of the third period got them back in the game. Madi Vinson's 12-feet baseline jumper gave Prairie Grove a 45-33 lead with 1:22 to go in the third. Nearly a minute later Jessica Bookout got a step and beat defenders down the lane for an easy basket. Krystin Branscum put in her own miss to end the third with Prairie Grove in front, 45-37.
Gravette coach Will Pittman switched defenses trying to staunch Prairie Grove's momentum.
"We did pull out of it (the full-court press)," Pittman said. "It didn't work out, but they shot more layups anyway. It was a good game. Prairie Grove did a good job. They fought hard all game, but I'm pleased with our girls battling back. We had a hard time making shots for three-and-a-half quarters, then we got even. I'm pleased with our effort at the end, we just came up a little bit short."
The contest was tied three times in the fourth, but Gravette was never able to capture the lead. Branscum got the ball in the post and went right to mark the last tie at 52-all with 54 seconds to go. Prairie Grove had trouble advancing the ball against Gravette's pressure, and after burning a time-out, wound up in-bounding underneath its own basket. The Lady Tigers attempted to throw the ball into the backcourt but the intended recipient of the in-bounds pass was well-guarded and couldn't get free.
Meanwhile the ball bounced toward the far end of the gym. For an instant Gravette appeared to have a golden opportunity to pick up the ball and get a layup. The Lady Lions couldn't quite get a handle on the ball and relentless pursuit by Prairie Grove resulted in Lexie Madewell reclaiming possession for the Lady Tigers.
Prairie Grove again had to burn a time-out in the backcourt with the clock at 10.2 seconds. When play resumed they got the ball into the hands of Larisha Crawford, who passed to Wynos. With the clock running down the freshman drove hard to the goal. Wynos got to the front of the rim and got the ball in the hoop for what turned out to be the winning basket.
Prairie Grove coach Kevin Froud admitted the last play didn't go down the way he drew it up, but had no complaints over the end result.
"I knew he (Pittman) would either come out in a man-to-man defense or a trap and we wanted Emily Grant to get it," Froud said. "When Larisha Crawford got it to Jasmine I had no problem with that. I just let her go. She's had big plays in the fourth quarter where we won games four or five times, at Shiloh Christian, against Siloam Springs, Huntsville and tonight. In the fourth quarter she just makes plays."
Crawford had a lot of confidence in Wynos
"I passed it to her because they were trapping and Coach Froud said if they did that the opposite side was open," Crawford said. "When I saw her go to the basket I was hoping the ball would go in. She did that once before against Huntsville. When I saw the ball go in and I thought the game was over I was so happy because we had just beat the team that is No. 1 in our conference right now."
In the midst of the celebration officials put time back on the clock ruling Pittman called time-out with 2.2 seconds remaining, but an in-bounds pass was deflected by Prairie Grove and Branscum's desperation shot in the backcourt was blocked by Sarah James Stone sealing the 54-52 win for the Lady Tigers.
"I'm so proud of our team," Crawford said. "I'm so proud of Jasmine for being a freshman. She is stepping up. I think we just really wanted it, this game."
Froud said the victory may serve as a crucial bump up in the conference standings for the Lady Tigers and help them avoid having to play either one of the top two seeds in the first-round of the district tournament. Froud said he doesn't want to play either Berryville or Gravette in that must-win situation with the loser going home and the winner advancing to the Regional tournament.
"We showed we can play with people when we play," Froud said. "It's a big win for us. We needed that. Maybe that win will keep us out of the seven and eight hole."
Prairie Grove 54, Gravette 52
Gravette (16-5, 11-2): Kyrstin Branscum 6 4-6 16, Cally Kildow 5 0-1 10, Mallory Smith 4 0-0 9, Jessica Bookout 2 2-5 6, Tori Foster 1 1-2 4, Madison Spencer 1 1-2 4, Bernice Garcia 1 0-0 3. Totals 20 8-14 52.
Prairie Grove (11-10, 7-6): Emily Grant 4-9 3-3 12, Aniyah Gibbs 3-10 5-5 11, Lexie Madewell 4-9 0-0 9, Jasmine Wynos 3-4 0-0 6, Sarah James Stone 0-3 5-6 5, Larisha Crawford 2-2 0-0 5, Kaylee Elder 1-2 0-0 2, Audrey Doering 1-1 0-0 2, Madi Vinson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 19-42 13-14 54.
3-Point Goals -- Gravette 4 (Foster, Garcia, Smith, Spencer). Prairie Grove 3-11 (Crawford 1-1, Madewell 1-4, Grant 1-5, Vinson 0-1).
Rebounds -- Prairie Grove 27 (Doering 5, Stone 5, Vinson 5, Wynos 5). Assists -- Prairie Grove 10 (Grant 3). Steals -- Prairie Grove 4 (Gibbs 2). Blocks -- Prairie Grove 1 (Grant). Turnovers -- Prairie Grove 18.Sports on 01/31/2018
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