Southwood’s Chelsea Tieuel appeared to keep the Lady Cowboys’ championship repeat hopes alive when she crashed the offensive glass and scored to put the defending Class 5A champions ahead by two with 7.2 seconds left Monday.
But Mt. Carmel’s Paige Franckiewicz sank a 3-pointer over Southwood’s Shaun O’Guin near the buzzer to lift the No. 9 Cubs past the No. 8 Lady Cowboys in a 59-58 win. The shot went in with about 1.5 seconds left, and Southwood couldn’t inbound the ball before the clock ran out.
Franckiewicz watched from the bench as Tieuel put her team ahead, and she thought how stressful the late-game situation must be for her teammates.
“And then they told me to go in,” Franckiewicz said. “Our trainer told me to go out there and drain it (a 3-pointer).
“(Point guard) Kristen Nuss is so good at moving in and out of defenses, and she delivered a great pass. I thought of the hundreds and hundreds of 3-pointers I’ve shot, and it was for this game. This season has been about visualizing victories and trusting each other, and we visualized that shot going in. This is probably the greatest moment of my 16 years of life.”
Franckiewicz’s 10 points complemented Jen Clark’s game high 27 points.
Tieuel scored 18 points in her final high school game, the only season not to end in a state championship appearance.
Southwood (24-7) advanced to four consecutive championship appearances (winning in 2013), and the Lady Cowboys hadn’t lost in the second round or earlier since 2009.
“It’s really tough – we were trying to get to another championship,” said a somber Tieuel. “That was our game, and we should have won.
“But I’m proud, very proud of us.”
Southwood coach Terry Josting took over the program in late November after legend Steve McDowell abruptly retired.
The Lady Cowboys gradually adjusted to Josting’s differing style, and he said Monday’s result shouldn’t define what a young group of players accomplished.
“I’m very very proud of these girls, and we started a lot of young girls this season,” said Josting, who inherited a team with four seniors. “It took a last-second shot to beat us … and we made a play just before that that could have won us the game.
“But (Franckiewicz) made a heckuva shot, and you have to give them credit.”
Southwood pulled away from a 29-29 halftime tie and led by as many as seven points late in the third quarter following one of four Jaiylan Brown 3-pointers.
But Franckiewicz made the first of two 3-pointers to aid an 8-1 run to tie the game at 49.
The low-scoring fourth quarter contained four lead changes and three ties, including a pair of Clark free throws to give the Cubs (26-6) a 56-54 lead with 1:35 left.
But Tieuel drove to create an O’Guin bucket and then had her putback to give Southwood the 58-56 edge before Franckiewicz’s game-winner.
Mt. Carmel pressured Southwood into more than 15 turnovers, creating easy buckets for the Lady Cubs despite Southwood occasionally getting layups themselves.
“That’s what we do, and we felt like we could be successful with that,” said Mt. Carmel coach Panos Bountovinas. “We got defensive stops at the end, and these girls never quit.
“With seven seconds left, we were going to get (Nuss) in the middle and maybe drive the lane. But we told our shooters to haul to the corner, and a beautiful pass set up the beautiful shot. We knew Southwood didn’t have the team they had last year, but when you walk in and see those banners, you know they’ve built a tradition here.”
Southwood’s Brown and O’Guin joined Tieuel in double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Southwood’s Danesha Hall (eight points) capped a 10-2 run early to give the Lady Cowboys a 15-7 lead, but Mt. Carmel slowly climbed back into the game to tie it multiple times in the second quarter before the eventual 29-29 halftime score.
The Cubs advance to play No. 17 Pineville, who upset the top seed Ouachita.