SPOKANE — With 6:02 remaining in the fourth quarter in Friday’s Lake Roosevelt-Toutle Lake semifinal matchup, Raiders guard Jada Desautel drove between three Duck defenders, banking in a layup to give her team a 38-37 lead.
That seemingly meaningless basket nearly became the one that spurred the Raiders into the state championship game.
After a comedy of missed shots, turnovers and defensive stands, neither team scored another point until Toutle Lake’s Payton Hoff made two free throws with 13.9 seconds left in the game — just moments after airballing the front end of a 1-and-1 — to give the Ducks the lead and eventually a 40-38 victory.
Desautel’s bucket stood as the only field goal made by either team in the fourth quarter, in which Toutle Lake outscored the Raiders 3-2.
After Hoff’s free throws, the Raiders threw away the ensuing inbounds pass and had to foul again.
The Ducks’ Sarah Andrews hit 1-of-2 from the line with 3.4 ticks on the clock for the final margin, but not before Hailey Chaney’s 60-foot prayer caromed off the rim at the buzzer.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life,” said Lake Roosevelt coach Pee Wee Pleasants, whose team will play Darrington in the third/fifth place game on Saturday afternoon. “We had point-blank looks, but we just couldn’t throw it in the ocean. It was one amazing quarter, but it was gut-wrenching to see what was going on. I think we focused so hard on tightening up our defense that it affected our offense.”
The cracks in Lake Roosevelt’s defense began to show late in the third quarter, when the Ducks went on a 9-0 run over the final 2:30 to take a 37-36 lead into the final period on Christian Carlson’s jumper with nine seconds to go.
It was the Ducks’ first lead since the first quarter.
“We were just running our motion, going through sets for a while trying to find something that worked,” Toutle Lake coach Larry Hoff said. “We spread them out and attacked the basket, but then we got away from it in the fourth quarter and settled for jump shots.”
Toutle Lake’s third-quarter spurt coincided with Lake Roosevelt post Roweena Antone being whistled for her fourth foul, not 15 seconds after taking the floor following picking up No. 3 on the quarter’s first possession.
“When Ro came out he put another post in the game and pounded us inside,” said Pleasants. “They were taller than us to begin with.”
Lake Roosevelt, one of the hottest teams in this tournament or any other, looked poised to pull off yet another shocking upset after taking a 30-22 lead into the locker room after Desautel’s 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer.
“In the first half we were executing well and doing everything we wanted to do,” Pleasants said. “In the second half, he (Hoff) made his adjustments, but we were still getting what we wanted. We just couldn’t hit anything.”
Neither could the Ducks, until Payton Hoff got a shot at redemption after missing everything from the free throw line.
“I think she embarrassed herself on that first one,” said Larry Hoff, her father and coach. “But it’s a testament to her character that she redeemed herself. How often do you get that opportunity? It’s a pretty special moment for her.”
Pleasants said his team would be able to regroup before its 1 p.m. tip on Saturday.
“There’s two ways you can handle it. You can be defeated and give up, or you can get your head up and finish this thing off with a win,” he said. “We’ve been playing great basketball the last month. We’ve got to soak it in and get a win tomorrow.”
The Raiders certainly made a believer out of Hoff, whose Ducks will play Reardan in Saturday’s championship game.
“I was very impressed with them,” he said. “They played with a ton of heart and they never stopped.”
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