LEAVITTSBURG - With around 40 seconds remaining and the game tied at 43, LaBrae gave the ball away and quite possibly the game.
But the Vikings retrieved the ball almost immediately, with Somer McCoy stealing the ball at the halfcourt line. McCoy wasted no time in passing to a wide-open Lindsey Jaros underneath the basket, who scored the game-winning bucket.
"It feels fantastic," Jaros said. "I'm really proud of my team for pulling it through."
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
LaBrae’s Somer McCoy, right, catches a pass at midcourt and looks to pass to a teammate in the key as Jefferson’s Jessica Becker (3) goes for the ball during the second quarter of their game on Thursday night.
Jaros' field goal with 25 seconds remaining capped off a huge second-half comeback by LaBrae in a 45-43 win over Jefferson. It was both teams' All-American Conference, National Division opener.
The Vikings (4-2, 1-0) went into halftime down nine, having scored 14 points. LaBrae couldn't buy a bucket in the first half, shooting 15 percent from the field, and the Vikings attempted one shot from beyond the arc.
"We told (the players) that they needed to continue to shoot and to work hard on defense," LaBrae coach Lisa Aldridge said. "We just knew that they were shooting poorly in that first half, and if they would continue to shoot, good things would happen."
Aldridge predicted correctly. LaBrae charged back in the third quarter and took a 27-26 lead with 40 seconds left in the quarter, the team's first lead since the game's first basket early in the first quarter.
That lead came during a 13-2 run over almost a seven-minute span. The run started at the 5:25 mark in the third quarter and ended at the 7:16 mark in the fourth quarter. The Vikings didn't miss a single shot over that span, and the run set up a close finish.
"They're a team that will step up to adversity," Aldridge said. "It seems like when they get down, that's when they want to come back."
Despite playing a 2-3 zone for the whole game, Labrae managed to get Jefferson's (3-2, 0-1 AAC, National) offense out of rhythm early in the second half.
The Falcons hit three shots from beyond the arc in the second quarter, but come the third quarter, Jefferson didn't attempt a 3-pointer. The Vikings stayed compact and patient, and that seemed to frustrate the Falcons. All of the sudden, the shots didn't fall for Jefferson, and the Vikings forced a few turnovers.
Jefferson tried a full-court press to create chances as a possible solution to the draught, but that allowed the Vikings to get layups at the other end after breaking the press.
"We started to play it a little bit tighter defense on them," Aldridge said. "We knew who their shooters were. (The Falcons) kind of had a little meltdown for a while, and we dug ourselves back into it."
This game marked the third time in six games that the Viking have recovered from a huge deficit. With only one senior getting regular minutes on the team, Alridge said that inexperience might be a cause of this trend.
"I don't like it," she said. "Hopefully, by the end of the season, we'll stay away from those big-margin deficits."