Randolph Southern didn’t make quite as many free throws as the Rebels would have liked Thursday night.
But, they did make all that they needed.
Logan Saylor swished two free throws with 4 seconds remaining, enough for the Rebels to hold off Winchester 47-45 at Winchester Fieldhouse.
It was also enough to hold off a pretty impressive final shot by Winchester’s Darrian Bradshaw. Saylor’s made free throws put the Rebels up by five, and Bradshaw banked in an off-balance, hook-like 3-pointer with a defender in her face to make the final score as time expired.
“It’s always like the biggest rivalry we have on our schedule. We know that they always give us our best game every year,” Southern senior Maddi Kramer said of the Falcons. “To come out and beat them twice this season is really special.”
Randolph Southern defeated Winchester 54-36 on Jan. 11, also at Winchester Fieldhouse, in the semifinals of the Randolph County Tournament.
Southern was the county runner-up this season, falling to Union in the final. Since then, though, Southern has embarked on a mini-county tournament of its own. The Rebels won the rematch at Union 54-43 in overtime a week ago, then again downed Winchester.
“We were fortunate to get out of here with a win,” said Rebels coach Jerimy Stephan. “The girls at Winchester, the coaching staff, they were prepared. They were ready.
“Anytime you play a team two times, three times, they know you, you know them, and it just gets a lot harder. “
Southern led at the end of each quarter in Thursday’s rematch, but not by more than six.
The Rebel advantage swelled to nine, 42-33, with 2:25 remaining.
Cue the Falcon comeback.
Winchester went on a 6-0 run, interrupted by two Morgan Acton free throws, then pulled within two on a Delaney Miller 3-pointer with 13 seconds left.
Kramer made a free throw for a three-point Rebel lead, and Saylor followed with two more to put the game out of reach.
The Rebels finished 16-of-26 from the free-throw line. Winchester was 6-of-14.
“I think we played four quarters this time,” said Winchester coach Ed Geesaman. “We played them in the county three out of four quarters. We played with some heart.
“You throw the records out when we play Randolph Southern. That’s just how it is.”
Shelbie Hathaway led three Rebels in double figures with 12 points, and also added a team-high nine rebounds.
Kramer scored 11 with seven rebounds, Acton finished with 10 points and Kara Snyder added eight points and five rebounds.
“We kind of had a little rough patch. … Shooters had been struggling,” Kramer said. “We’re trying to get the ball around. Everybody’s been stepping up, and we’re shooting the ball very well now.”
Winchester, too, spread the offense around.
Milller had a game-high 18 points, while Bradshaw netted 10 and Hayley Myers scored seven. All of Myers’ points came in the fourth quarter.
Rebecca Neville added four points, and was also a huge force on the boards. The sophomore grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds, with Miller adding 12.
“The girls are working hard,” Geesaman said. “The last three games I can see that we’re starting to make some progress, and that’s the bottom line. We’re three weeks away or so from our sectional, and we’re in the right direction, I feel like, getting ready for our tough sectional.”
Winchester (3-13) returns to action Jan. 30 at home with Tri-Eastern Conference foe Union City.
Randolph Southern (10-5) returns to Mid-Eastern Conference play Saturday at home with Blue River.
The Rebels are 5-0 in the MEC, with conference games left against the Vikings, Cowan (Jan. 27) and Monroe Central (Feb. 1).
“We have to use this to prepare ourselves for the tournament. I felt like there was a point in this game where we did that,” Stephan said. “There was also a point in this game where we did a lot of stuff that we shouldn’t. But I felt like toward the end of the game, we started playing the way we need to, and it made a difference.”