Belleville East freshman Kayla Rainey wasn’t happy about missing a potential game-winning layup at the buzzer at the end of regulation on Tuesday at Belleville West.
But the lightning-fast Lancers guard connected on the shot that counted the most.
Showing the presence of mind of a seasoned varsity player, Rainey grabbed an offensive rebound then made a a 3-point shot with four seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime and the Lancers’ momentum carried over to the extra session as they went on for a 73-70 win over Belleville West in a Southwestern Conference game.
Beaten by their city rivals twice during the regular season, including in the third-place game at the Mascoutah Invitational two weeks ago, the Lancers (12-6, 7-2) appeared headed for another loss, trailing 60-56 late in the fourth quarter on Tuesday.
But West, which was 23-of-32 from the foul line for the game, missed chances to ice the win with a couple missed charity tosses down the stretch. With her team trailing 60-57 with time running down, Rainey grabbed an offensive rebound then had the presence of mind to dash out to the 3-point line where she calmly drained the game tying shot.
But Rainey wasn’t done. Using her quickness following the inbounds pass, Rainey stepped in front of a Maroons player intercepted the pass, but then saw her potential shot fall of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
“I was just trying to get the shot off before time expired,’’ Rainey said with a smile. “On the game tying shot, I got the rebound and I knew I we were down three points and we needed the 3-point shot to tie the game. Fortunately the shot went in.’’
Rainey led the Lancers attack with 19 points while Morgan St. James added 17 and Myriah Noodel-Haywood added 12 for East, which moved into second place in the SWC one game behind Edwardsville.
“It was a great game and fortunately we were able to come out on top this time. We had severa players step up and make big plays down the stretch and in overtime for us,’’ Lancers coach Amanda Kemezys said. “I told Kayla she could have made things a lot easier for us is she would have made the layup at the end of regulation.
“But she plays with so much poise. For a freshman to not only grab the rebound but them have the presence of mind to go out and take the 3-point shot and make it. She’s played a lot of basketball.’’
Keyed by the play of Rainey, East scored the first seven points of overtime to take a 67-60 lead. Haywood, Jailynn McClenny and St. James all scored baskets and when Rainey scored on a on a free throw, East had a seemingly safe 67-60 lead with 2:35 left in overtime.
But West (11-6, 6-3) rebounded behind the play of freshman Chamya Darough and Anjanice Jones. Darough, who led West with 20 points scored on a short jumper and Jones and freshman B’Aunce Carter added baskets as the Maroons closed to within 70-68.
Darough then had a chance to tie the game but following a steal, the Maroons point guard missed the layup while being closely guarded.
“It was a great game and I told the girls after the game how proud I am of them,’’ Maroons coach Seth Garrett said. “We were playing with one starter sick, another one (Erika) Harvery tried to play but she couldn’t go because of an injured ankle.
“We could have layed down and used that for an excuse tonight. But we didn’t. I was proud of the way we fought all night.’’
Rainey was outstanding down the stretch and scored 19 points despite missing time in both halves because of foul trouble.
“Kayla (Rainey) is just so fast. She’s hard to guard,’’ Garrett said.