E.A. Sports Today

‘Gutsiest play I’ve seen’

Sophomore’s showing in overtime lifts PV over third-seeded Ohatchee

Pleasant Valley sophomore Atleigh Brannon gets a hero's reception after her big plays in overtime helped the Raiders upset Ohatchee.

Pleasant Valley sophomore Atleigh Brannon gets a hero’s reception after her big plays in overtime helped the Raiders upset Ohatchee.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Pleasant Valley girls basketball coach Jeremy Wallace knew of only one way to describe his team’s 61-55 overtime upset of third-seeded Ohatchee in the Calhoun County Tournament Tuesday night.

“That was some of the gutsiest play by an individual athlete that I have seen since I’ve been coaching,” Wallace said.

The Raiders (14-11), who picked up the last of the six formal seeds in the girls draw, have been trying since the first night of the season to beat the Indians again and they pulled it off behind Atleigh Brannon’s inspired play over the final 40 seconds of the game.

With her team down 55-54, the sophomore single-handedly guided her team through the rest of overtime and into the tournament semifinals against the winner of tonight’s White Plains-Anniston game.

Brannon rebounded a missed free throw and drove the length of the floor for a layup and was fouled. The resulting three-point play put the Raiders up for good with 34.8 seconds to play.

What followed next was pure determination.

She made the first of two free throws with 16.4 seconds left and missed the second, then stole the ball from Makenzie Hanks in the forecourt and got fouled with 12.1 seconds left and made both those free throws. Then she stole it from Joria Steger at midcourt with six seconds left that led to Williams being fouled and hitting a final free throw with 5.3 seconds to play.

“It was just very nerve wracking, but I was just praying on my free throws like “God, please help me make these,’ and He helped me out,” Brannon said. “It was amazing, being in a tight game like that and coming out with a win is one of the best feelings ever. I just felt like we were going to win and we pulled through at the end when it really counted.”

Brannon finished with 22 points. Her senior her backcourt “twin” and best friend Tiffany Williams had a game-high 25. It was Williams’ two free throws with 2.4 seconds left in regulation that tied the game at 53 and sent it into overtime.

“The performance the last two minutes of the ballgame had nothing to do with Coach Wallace,” the Raiders’ coach said. “That was a gutsy performance by two incredible young ladies.

“It was amazing just to be able to anticipate that and as a sophomore to be able to see and understand the importance of what she was doing putting pressure on them. That’s just great basketball sense by an upcoming star.”

The “twins” won the anticipated duel with Ohatchee duo Morgan Lee and Steger as well. Lee scored only eight points and Steger, who felt the presence of PV’s posts all game, had 21. Steger scored the first points of the overtime, but they were the last points the Indians would score.

Steger gave the Indians at 53-51 lead with two free throws with 25 seconds left in regulation. Williams missed a chance to tie it with nine seconds left when she missed a shot in the lane, but got a chance at redemption when she was fouled by Peyton Steinberg deep in the corner inside of three seconds.

The final margin was about the widest margin there was in the game. The teams traded holding the lead at the end of each quarter. The game was tied seven times in the second half and overtime and the lead changed hands seven times.

Pleasant Valley 61, Ohatchee 55 (OT)

OHATCHEE — Kacie Cooper 0 0-0 0, Courtney Poole 1 0-1 2, Morgan Lee 2 3-6 8, Ally McCoy 1 1-1 4, Peyton Steinberg 3 0-0 9, Makenzie Hanks 1 0-0 3, Madison Hanks 2 1-2 5, Joria Steger 7 7-10 21
Faith Walker 0 3-4 3, Cheyenne McCarter 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 15-24 55.

PLEASANT VALLEY (14-11) — Kara Perry 0 1-2 1, Tiffany Williams 8 8-10 25, Atleigh Brannon 7 5-7 22, McKinley Parris 3 3-4 12, Bailey Turner 1 0-1 2, Mikala Simpson 1 0-0 2, Baily Scott 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 17-24 61.

Ohatchee 11 16 13 13 2 — 55
Pleasant Valley 15 11 17 10 8 — 61

3-point goals: Ohatchee 6 (Lee, McCoy, Steinberg 3, Mk. Hanks); Pleasant Valley 4 (Williams, Brannon 3), Total fouls: Ohatchee 22, Pleasant Valley 24. Fouled out: Steinberg, Md. Hanks, Turner. Officials: Robinson, Oden, Brady.

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