Usually when a player decides not to run the play that was drawn up in the huddle, it earns them a few words from the coach or even a seat on the bench.
Saturday it earned Ashley Finnegan a win.
Finnegan hit a fadeaway jumper from the baseline with 7.6 seconds left to lift West Branch to a 57-55 win over Clear Creek Amana.
“We had a play drawn up but she just took charge and pulled up and hit that jump shot,” West Branch coach Jarod Tylee said. “That is good to see as a coach when your best player steps up and takes advantage of the opportunity.”
With the score tied, Finnegan inbounded the ball near half court with 14 seconds left.
The senior guard immediately got the ball back and raced toward the basket before pulling up for the game-winner.
“We had a play drawn out, but the play that we ran wasn’t really planned,” Finnegan. “I was just hoping to make a shot or get a shot for someone else on the team.”
The improvisation by Finnegan completed a six-point fourth quarter comeback by West Branch as the Bears improved to 5-3 on the season.
Finnegan had 14 of her game-high 19 points after halftime but none were bigger than her pull-up 12 footer with 7.6 seconds left.
“I was just trying to get to the basket,” Finnegan said. “It was a jumper and I’m pretty confident in my jump shot, and it felt good when I shot it.”
Clear Creek Amana had one final chance to tie or win the game but West Branch’s Madison Russell came up with a steal as time expired.
The late turnover was the 27th of the game for Clear Creek Amana, which dropped to 2-6 with its fifth straight loss.
“It’s really frustrating when you have four turnovers there in the last four possessions of the game and you lose by two,” Clear Creek Amana coach Matt Haas said. “We didn’t even get a shot off, and that is the frustrating part of it; you have to value the possession of the basketball.”
West Branch led 26-22 at halftime and the Bears upped their lead to 37-28 on a 3-pointer by Finnegan with 4:42 left in the third quarter.
Clear Creek Amana responded with a 9-0 run that came entirely from the free throw line to tie the score at 37.
The Clippers took a 40-39 lead into the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Kiley Seelman and led 47-41 when Seelman scored on a putback with 6:54 left in the game.
West Branch slowly chipped away at the lead and took a 54-53 lead on back-to-back jumpers by Russell.
The second basket by Russell with 1:18 left gave West Branch a 54-53 lead with 1:18 left.
A Haley Poula free throw put West Branch up 55-53 with 53 seconds left but Clear Creek Amana’s Kelsey Hall was fouled while grabbing the rebound and tied the score with a pair of free throws with 52 seconds left.
Neither team would score again until Finnegan’s game-winner.
“I think everybody on our team and our coaching staff knows that she is our go-to player,” Tylee said of Finnegan. “She needs to be able to make plays, whether that’s scoring or creating things, and we had a screen and roll drawn up in the timeout but she just went and made a play.”
Finnegan, Russell and senior Shannon Laing combined to score 43 of the Bears’ 57 points.
Russell finished with 14 while Laing added 10 and a team-high five rebounds.
“We hadn’t played very well for the previous two or three games and this is as well if not the best we have played all year long,” Tylee said. “They are a good team, we came in fully knowing that we would have our hands full and I thought our girls stepped up to the challenge and played really well.”
Hanna Stokes led Clear Creek Amana with 15 points, 13 of which came after halftime, and seven rebounds.
Hall added 14 points for Clear Creek Amana while Seelman finished with 12.
The Clippers shot 37 percent from the floor and were 4-of-16 from beyond the 3-point line.
“I think today we were four out of 16 from three and the other night we were nine out of 21; you can’t rely on the three the whole time,” Haas said. “You have to score inside and she (Stokes) brought that in the second half. We need to be able to put that together for a whole game.”
West Branch (57) – Madison Russell 6-8 2-3 14, Ashley Finnegan 8-15 1-2 19, Kara Fountain 0-2 0-0 0, Trystin Luneckas 0-1 0-0 0, Amelia Shawver 0-1 0-0 0, Leah Hott 0-2 1-2 1, Haley Mullinnix 1-4 2-3 4, Haley Poula 2-7 1-2 5, Jenae Murry 0-4 2-2 2, Shannon Laing 2-5 6-6 10, Paige Miller 1-4 0-0 2, Totals 20-53 15-20 57.
Clear Creek Amana (55) – Hannah Mougin 0-6 3-4 3, Kelsey Hall 4-7 404 14, Mallory Neubauer 0-2 0-0 0, Hanna Stokes 5-12 5-8 15, Lexi Kinnaird 3-9 2-2 8, Emily Wieland 1-3 1-2 3, Kiley Seelman 4-7 2-2 12, Kelly Noska 0-2 0-0 0, Totals 17-48 17-22 55.
3-point field goals – CCA 4-16 (Mougin 0-5, K. Hall 2-5, Turner 0-1, Kinnaird 0-1, Wieland 0-1, Seelman 2-3), WB 2-10 (Finnegan 2-5, Fountain 0-1, Hott 0-1, Mullinnix 0-2, Miller 0-1). Rebounds – CCA 39 (Stokes, Kinnaird 7), WB 34 (Laing 5). Turnovers – CCA 27, WB 20. Total fouls – CCA 20, WB 18. Fouled out – None. Technicals – West Branch bench.