Emma Winiski had struggled from 3-point range the previous three games.
“I was probably 0-for-5, 0-for-6,” she recalled Wednesday, the day after Wade Hampton’s thrilling, 71-68 victory over Northwestern in the third round of the Class AAAA girls basketball playoffs.
“Once I hit the first shot, I was like, ‘All right, I’m feeling pretty good.’ “
Fortunately for the Generals, Winiski kept shooting, right up until her 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds left lifted Wade Hampton into the Upper State championship against Dorman at 7 p.m. Friday at the Bi-Lo Center.
The Generals, who trailed 53-44 entering the fourth quarter, tied the score at 68-68 on a drive by Nikki Young with 9.3 seconds remaining. Young, who scored 13 of her 24 points in the final period, was fouled but was unable to convert the 3-point play.
“When I missed the free throw, I automatically thought it was overtime,” Young said.
Teammate Alexis Dillard corralled the rebound – “a monter rebound,” Winiski called it.
“I just went for it, and then something told me that Emma was right there,” Dillard said. “I looked, threw it straight to Emma, and I just ran back. I didn’t even want to see it.”
“At that moment, I wasn’t thinking about the score,” said Winiski. “I wasn’t thinking that we were tied. I got the ball, and I was like, ‘Well, I’m just going to let it fly.’ “
“It was just happiness for everybody,” said Young. “Everyone was excited, fans were on the court and it was a great feeling.”
It marked the second straight game in which the Generals had to rally on the road to stay alive. They trailed much of their second-round game against Spring Valley.
“We knew that we were not going home,” Winiski said. “We were ready to fight. We just rallied together and did not give up.”