FAIRFIELD — Add a classic to the increasingly intense rivalry for the city prep girls basketball crown.
On Friday night, Vanden (7-0) reclaimed the crown with a wild 65-63 overtime victory over host Armijo at E. Gary Vaughn Gymnasium.
It came down to free throws in the end.
With her team trailing 62-61, and 3 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the 4-minute overtime session, Vanden’s Kayla Blair drove the lane on the right side for an uncontested layup and a 63-62 lead. Armijo’s Laura Lawson tied it, sinking the back half of a double-bonus free throw situation, but that was it for the Indians (4-4).
Blair was fouled under the hoop and she hit the first of two free throws to make it a 64-63 with 48.4 seconds to play. She led the Vikings with 12 points.
Toni Taylor also sank the first of two with 14.2 seconds on the clock.
Armijo’s Daija Daniels launched a 3-point attempt with 2 seconds left, but it bounced off the rim and right to Taylor who wrapped it up until the horn.
Thus ended a physical, sometimes ugly, thriller and the Vikings took back their long-held throne as queens of the city hoops scene.
Vanden coach Allison Johnson, while glad for the win, was less than pleased with her team’s play early on.
“I thought that we didn’t convert on the opportunities that the girls created,” Johnson said. “I thought we missed too many of the open opportunities and I thought that put us in a position to have to go into overtime and whatnot.”
The game started out with the teams shooting poorly – both were 8 for 32 in the first half – but, again, free throws were the difference as Armijo hit 12 of 20 in the first 16 minutes for a 30-25 lead at the break.
Vanden forced 15 turnovers in the first half, but the Vikings also gave up the ball 17 times in the half, creating opportunities for Armijo.
The Vikings jumped out to a 6-4 lead before a Melaya Gaines 3-point play gave the Indians a 7-6 lead that they didn’t relinquish until the fourth quarter.
That final 8 minutes of regulation saw eight ties and lead changes.
A fast-break layup by Vanden’s Lanissa Belk tied it at 47-47. A steal and another fast break gave the Vikings the lead at 49-47 on a Blair bucket.
It was back and forth the rest of the way with Armijo reclaiming the lead at 59-57 on a layup by Marshanique Hall with 23 seconds left.
Belk struck again with 16 seconds to play to send it to overtime.
“I thought at the end we showed some flashes of what we’re capable of and although I’m happy for my girls for the win, I’m not overall pleased with our performance,” Johnson said.
Armijo coach Christian Stoll was more than pleased with the game.
“We’re not going to hang our heads, I mean we fought our butts off and played as hard as we could, and that was just a great, really good high school basketball game,” he said. “I haven’t been part of a game quite like that before. Playing them last year was a good game, but I thought this game was even better.”
Stoll also called it his team’s best game of the season.
Gaines led the Indians with a game-high 14 points and added nine rebounds. Lawson scored all four Armijo points in overtime and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Justice Robinson Kroon added 10 points and 10 boards, while Daniels had nine points.
Chantel Greer had 12 points for the Vikings, and Belk and Taylor scored nine each.
“They got some buckets inside on us at the end,” Stoll said. “We kind of gave them a few driving lanes, but like I said, we gave it everything we got and it was just a back-and-forth great game at the end.”
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.