Ellsworth led by as many as 18 points on Tuesday during the Class B girls state championship but let Spruce Mountain back into the contest.
Ellsworth coach Andy Pooler told his team before the game that the Eagles just needed to win by one. So with the game tied, Ellsworth’s Megan Jordan swished a free throw with 13 seconds left to lift the Eagles over the Phoenix in a 57-56 victory at the Portland Expo.
It’s Ellsworth’s first state championship in basketball.
“We just gutted out and we are just going to win by one and get on the bus as fast as we can and enjoy it,” Pooler said after the win. “We joked in the locker room that we only need to win by one but it’s a joke. It’s not legit. Twenty would have been nice, but the fans had a three-hour drive so may as well give them a good one.”
The No. 3 Eagles (19-3) got 17 points from sophomore guard Abby Radel and 10 from sophomore Grace Jaffray in the win over the No. 2 Phoenix (20-2).
“It feels amazing,” Radel said. “Words can’t even express it. It’s awesome. It’s awesome.”
Spruce Mountain’s Jaydn Pingree was fouled with 49 seconds left and missed her first free throw before sinking the second to put the Phoenix up two. Pingree finished with 16.
Ellsworth’s Addison Atherton made a midrange jumper to tie the game with 30 seconds left, followed by a Spruce miss.
Jordan made her second free throw with 13 seconds left after being fouled to give the Eagles a 57-56 lead.
“I just went up and tried to make them,” Jordan said. “I knew it was going in, at least the first one. The second one, eh.”
Radel didn’t question whether or not Jordan would give the team the lead.
“I had all the confidence in the world in her,” Radel added. “She makes her foul shots in practice so I just believed in her.”
Atherton grabbed the offensive rebound and was quickly fouled and sent to the line. Atherton missed the front end and Mastine got the rebound but lost the ball on the offensive end. Spruce Mountain looked for a foul, but there was none called and Radel was able to dribble the rest of the clock out.
“She’s our junior captain and is an absolute rock,” Pooler said of Jordan. “When she got fouled we knew we would be fine and she would bury one. Maybe not two, but one. We did and then we were able to get the offensive rebound and all we needed was one extra possession. They let us play and at the end we got away with a win.”
Radel scored the first five points of the game and ended the first quarter with 11 as the Eagles began the game with explosive energy that helped them to a 19-6 lead.
Spruce Mountain shot 2-12 from the field in the first period with its final basket, a layup from Olivia Mastine, coming with 3:10 remaining. The Phoenix weren’t able to score again until the 4:15 mark of the second quarter when Avery Bessey nailed a 3-pointer that cut Ellsworth’s lead to 22-9.
Jaffray grabbed six rebounds in the first quarter, blocked a shot and scored a layup. The sophomore added three more rebounds in the second quarter.
Mastine made a layup and was fouled with 2:47 left in the first half and made the ensuing free throw. On the next Ellsowrth possession, Radel made her only basket of the second quarter, a 3-pointer from the left side that put the Eagles ahead 30-12 with 2:35 to play.
Spruce struggled from the floor again in the second quarter but its defense tightened up and slowed the Eagles’ high-flying offense. Ellsworth scored 13 in the second and took a 32-15 lead into the break.
“It’s young energy,” Pooler said. “Maybe toward the third we fizzled out a little where we threw it all out there in the first half. This is a big moment, we’re talking about a state championship. Where is the adversity going to come from and can they withstand it, and they had just enough.”
Jaffray kicked off the third quarter with a layup and then immediately after a steal at halfcourt for another easy basket at the rim to give Ellsworth a quick 36-15 advantage. The sophomore would score the team’s first eight points of the third after scoring just two in the first half.
Mastine drilled a 3-pointer for the Phoenix with 2:45 left in the third to cut the deficit to 15, but Ellsworth’s Jordan answered with a quick layup to kill the momentum.
Spruce kept hanging around and with less than two minutes left in the third quarter used its full court press to get a 10-second call on Ellsworth. On the ensuing Phoenix possession, a layup was missed but Jaydn Pingree stole the ball and scored, curing the deficit to 13.
“It was momentum and energy, we got good shots and good calls, and in the second half we didn’t get the calls we wanted but we had to buckle down,” Jordan said. “We knew they were a fourth-quarter team, too, so we buckled down.”
Jazmine Pingree scored an old-fashioned three-point play at the start of the fourth quarter and Mastine scored four quick points as well.
Mastine made a 3-pointer from the right wing and then Jaydn Pingree grabbed a rebound and went up the court, getting fouled under the hoop. Pingree made both free throws to make it a three-point game before scoring again on Spruce’s next possession to cut Ellsworth’s lead to 52-51.
Mastine made a layup with two minutes to play, followed by a quick layup from Radel on the other end to retake the lead for the Eagles, 54-53.
Pingree was fouled on a shot attempt with 1:48 to play and made both to give the Phoenix a 55-54 advantage.
Jazmine Pingree took a charge at halfcourt with 1:42 left that gave Spruce the ball back.
Mastine ended the game with a team-high 22 points.