Nixa’s Toshua Levitt broke the huddle in a tie game against Kickapoo with less than 10 seconds left on Thursday night, giving herself a pep talk.
As if somehow, the sophomore guard had a feeling of what was about to happen.
Because seconds later, Levitt was fouled on her 3-point attempt with less than two seconds left and was sent to the free-throw line with the game on the line.
“I was just telling myself to get ready and concentrate and to not worry about it,” Levitt said.
“And it must have worked because I was comfortable at the line.”
It must have worked indeed, because she made all three free throws to give Nixa a 46-43 win in nonconference action at Kickapoo.
Nixa (6-1) trailed Kickapoo (3-2) by five points at the start of the fourth quarter, when Levitt began to heat up from the field.
Levitt sank three consecutive 3-pointers and personally outscored Kickapoo 9-2, to give the Lady Eagles a 39-37 lead with 5:16 left in the game.
“I was feeling it a little bit and I knew the team needed me to get some points and help them out,” Levitt said.
Kickapoo sophomore Natalie Closser tied the game at 39-all with a rebound and putback with 3:26 remaining.
Closser then gave the Lady Chiefs the lead at 43-41 with a bucket from the post with 1:07 to play. Closser led Kickapoo with 17 points and seven rebounds.
On Nixa’s next possession, senior Jeana Raper knocked down a jumper from the free-throw line to tie the game at 43 with 41 seconds left.
“Raper hit the big bucket to tie the game, she created, took her time and stopped and popped,” Nixa coach Jim Middleton said.
“And I think that gave us a real boost.”
Kickapoo turned the ball over on its next possession, as a traveling violation negated a go-ahead 3-pointer with 13 seconds on the clock.
“It is a momentum swing when you have the chance to be up and you turn the ball over, but we still had an opportunity to stop them,” Kickapoo coach Jim Pendergrass said.
“There are a lot of plays that could have been different, it doesn’t come down to one play at the very end.”
Nixa forced seven turnovers in the final quarter to fuel its game-winning comeback, and forced 16 total turnovers by the Lady Chiefs.
“I’m really proud of the way our girls played tonight and how they were able to hang in and fight and be confident,” Pendergrass said.
“As you go through the season, you can learn a lot from every game and I learned a lot about our team tonight and the kind of fight they’re able to bring.”
Levitt led Nixa with 18 points, all in the second half, and junior Angie Allen added 13 points, 10 in the second quarter.
“We knew Angie had the hot hand, so we tried to get her the ball,” Levitt said.
“Without her second quarter, we wouldn’t have gone anywhere.”