SPRINGDALE – Down by one with 45.2 seconds remaining and its opponents, Bladensburg, inbounding the ball, the Charles H. Flowers girls’ basketball team needed a defensive stop in order to have a chance at winning the game. However, nobody expected the wild ending that ensued on Senior Night. A 15-second scramble commenced, including a steal […]
SPRINGDALE – Down by one with 45.2 seconds remaining and its opponents, Bladensburg, inbounding the ball, the Charles H. Flowers girls’ basketball team needed a defensive stop in order to have a chance at winning the game.
However, nobody expected the wild ending that ensued on Senior Night.
A 15-second scramble commenced, including a steal on the inbound by a diving Talanya Hutton of Flowers, however she turned the ball back over to Bladensburg after the save attempt.
Before Bladensburg freshman Asia Adams could convert the game-clinching layup, Flowers guard Daija Warren reached in and poked away a last-second steal. The senior retrieved the ball, sped down the court and scored a floating jumper, giving the Lady Jaguars the lead with 26 seconds remaining.
“The last two minutes were pretty rough,” Warren said. “We had to come out and play well. Play to our full abilities, heart and passion and we didn’t let up.”
With no timeouts, Bladensburg rushed the ball down court. Junior guard Kayla Brooks’ layup attempt with 18 seconds left bounced off the glass, landing in front of two opposing players fighting for the rebound.
A chair flew onto the court as referees stopped the clock. It was thrown by a police officer, demanding that play be stopped to stretcher out injured Bladensburg guard Jennifer Manosi. Referees did not hear the screams coming from the Mustang bench by players, coaches and EMTs to stop play.
“I tell them to play to the whistle so if they didn’t hear a whistle, they were going to continue to play,” Flowers Interim Head Coach Xenia Stewart said. “We were down, trying to get back into the game, so it wasn’t going to matter if the police stopped it. It was about whoever was on the court stopping play, and I drive that home until the end.”
The points counted and Warren, along with her game-high 20 points, helped the Jaguars survive a scare against Bladensburg, 53-47, in their regular season finale. With the victory, Flowers (14-7) finishes the season winning two of its last three home games and possibly securing a top spot in the playoffs.
“We’ve been talking about games like this. We run over in practice all the time,” Hutton said. “To pull it out, I’m very happy, especially considering that it is our Senior Night. I am happy that everyone came together to play as a team like you want to play basketball.”
The controversial ending marred the defensive battle between the two teams. Players dove for loose balls, intercepted passes and reached in for steals. However, some of the defensive fighting turned rough, injuring players. Two Flowers players, Hutton and guard Ariel Chichester, were treated for shoulder injuries after the game.
Late in the fourth, Manosi landed hard on the ground after attempting to block a shot. Manosi screamed “it popped out” after hitting the ground, signaling a possible dislocated shoulder. Bladensburg officials rushed to the buses after the game and were not available for comment.
Flowers exploded after halftime, going on an 8-0 run to extend its lead as many as 11 points. However, it would evaporate quickly as Manosi scored eight straight points, including two three-pointers and a buzzer-beating layup before the end of the third quarter. She finished with 14 points and helped cut the deficit to one point before her injury.
Bladensburg (10-10) continued to rally in the fourth quarter as Adams scored seven of her final team-leading 15 points, including a jumper that gave the Lady Mustangs their first lead since the end of the first quarter (43-42) with less than three minutes remaining.
“They took the momentum from us,” Hutton said. “We had to get it back, which we did. I am glad we did because we weren’t playing like a team when they took the momentum. When we took it back, we played as a team, together and played disciplined basketball.”
Flowers scored the last nine points of the game after going scoreless for more than four minutes in the final quarter. While the team needs to focus on its scoring efficiency before the playoffs, Stewart said she was glad the team was able to enjoy one more victory at home with their senior teammates.
“I think that was one for the books. They are going to remember this forever,” Stewart said. “Over the year, sometimes, they don’t really get back in it, depending on who is (on the court). I think that this is one of those games that they had enough and they really wanted to win it.”