Battling foggy contact lenses, a lanky Norwood defender and the inherent pressure that accompanies last-second shots, Dove Creek Bulldogs senior Ana Lee did not flinch.
Calmly collecting an offensive rebound, Lee set her feet, let loose a high arcing shot and watched as the ball dropped through the net with 1.1 seconds left to secure a 35-34 Bulldogs victory.
As her teammates mobbed her, Lee soaked up the moment while perhaps looking back on a furious Dove Creek run that saw the Bulldogs outscore the Mavericks 15-2 over the final 8 minutes.
“We weren’t ready to lose yet,” said Lee. “We’ve been practicing to win, and that’s what’s important. We played as a team.”
Prior to their big fourth quarter however, the Bulldogs looked little like a team as the group struggled to find offensive rhythm and score against a stingy Norwood defense.
Trailing 9-8 after the first quarter and 22-13 at the half, the Bulldogs eventually fell behind 32-18 late in the third quarter after Norwood junior Jordan Williams sliced through the lane to score one of her many layups.
Not ready to concede victory , Bulldogs senior Madison Young scored a tough bucket with three seconds left in the third quarter, cutting the Mavericks lead to 32-20 and giving Dove Creek momentum entering the fourth.
Throughout the fourth quarter, it was all Bulldogs, who, relying on the quickness of senior guards Jessica Guynes and Corissa Guynes to force turnovers, went on an 8-2 run to cut the Norwood lead to 34-30 with under a minute left.
After forcing yet another turnover, the Bulldogs looked to leading scorer Madison Young, who, showing range generally not seen in post players, drilled a clutch three-pointer to narrow the Norwood lead to 34-33.
Forced to foul Norwood to stop the clock, the Bulldogs received a run of good luck after consecutive missed free throws gave Dove Creek a final possession and the chance to win.
At that point, Lee was able to collect an offensive rebound and score the game-winner, much to the delight of a large home crowd that stomped and clapped in unison until the final buzzer sounded.
In all, Lee scored eight points in the contest and collected five rebounds. Young led the Bulldogs in scoring with 14 points.
With the victory, the Bulldogs improved to 10-1 on the season, while Norwood dropped to 9-1.
It is likely that the Bulldogs’ win over the previously top-ranked Mavericks will boost their state standing.
“(The win) builds our confidence,” said Lee. “We’re a very proud that we beat them. They are a very good team.”
Next up for the Bulldogs will be a road matchup against Grand County on Jan. 28.