The game was all but over. Just four-tenths of a second and a glimmer of hope remained for the G.W. Carver girls.
Trailing by two, the Wolverines were tied up for a jump ball, and possession went to Hoover with less than a half second left. But on the the inbound play, Hoover’s Marqu’es Webb moved on the baseline and turned the ball over, giving Carver one last shot.
The ball, lobbed to Carver’s Tatyana Calhoun underneath the basket, slipped through her fingers. Then the buzzer sounded, ending the Wolverines’ state title hopes with a 37-35 loss in the Class 6A semifinals.
“We did just like we do in practice,” Carver senior Taja-Wana Russell said. “We put our big girl on the block with her hands straight up, we throw it in, and she catches and shoots. It just didn’t work this time.”
After trailing most of the way, Carver tied the game at 35 on a Calhoun basket with 35 seconds remaining.
On the next possession, Russell committed a blocking foul that sent Hoover’s Courtney Hunter to the line. Hunter was just 1-for-12 shooting for the day, but nailed both free throws that soon ended Carver’s season.
“When we tied the game, I thought we got a little anxious on defense,” Carver coach Michelle Simmons said. “We were guarding pretty closely, and ended up sending them to the free-throw line.”
Hoover held a crucial advantage at the line Thursday, making 14 of 20 attempts, while Carver sank only 8 of 23.
“When you’re not making those free shots, it has a tendency to mentally get you off balance,” Simmons said. “When you come off missing two or three free throws, it gets you down.”
Calhoun, Russell, Pamela Allen and Kendra Fowler each scored seven points for the Wolverines.
Webb led the way for the Buccaneers with a dominating 19-point, 20-rebound performance. Simmons said she is familiar with Webb, a Vanderbilt signee, from her days at Brewbaker Tech.
So Hoover (27-4) plays Blount (30-4) for the state championship at 5 p.m. Saturday, while the Wolverines (26-3) head home earlier than they planned.
“You just have to find the right words to tell your kids, and I don’t know if there are any as soon as the game is over,” Simmons said. “I just told them I was proud of them. And I still felt like we were a winner, even though the scores did not represent that, that they were still the best team.”