FAIRFAX, Va. — Christ the King 5-10 senior guard Brandy Thomas wasn’t the obvious choice for the inbound pass. With her team trailing 45-43 with 43 seconds to play Friday in the Art Turner Tipoff Classic, the likely target would have been 6-4 sophomore post Natalija Marshall.
Somehow, Thomas squeezed her way into the lane, took the inbound pass from Kealynn Satterfield and made a layup and an ensuing free throw to lift the unranked Royals to a 46-45 defeat of No. 8 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.).
“That’s our secret play,” said Thomas, who led Christ the King with 11 points. “Everybody shifts over and I act like I’m playing safety and then you come back for the layup. They caught us on it and I finished strong, so I got the and-one. I expected it (the contact) and I knew I was going to make the shot.”
It was the opener for both teams, so there were plenty of missed shots and mistakes.
“I don’t know how she got in there, but it was a great game and a great atmosphere,” Paul VI coach Scott Allen said, adding his team was hurt by its reliance on jump shots. Senior 6-3 post Amira Collins, a Tennessee signee, led the Panthers with 16 points.
“You can’t set your defense if the ball doesn’t go in the basket,” Allen said. “That’s one of the things we struggled with. We settled for some jump shots a lot of times, and the ball didn’t go in. In the second half, we did a better job of getting the ball inside.”
Paul VI, the tournament host, had a chance to win. With four seconds left, Panthers sophomore guard Aurea Gingras drove the lane and got off a solid layup attempt that rolled off the rim.
“That’s our first game, wow,” Christ the King coach Bob Mackey said. “If we could play that 10 times, it would be a lot of fun because both teams would be a lot better. That was a heavyweight battle.”