CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Cara Minor hit a game-winning two-point shot as time expired, lifting Class AA No. 1 North Marion over No. 8 Bluefield 56-54 in a dramatic girls basketball quarterfinal matchup.
The bucket came off an in-bounds with just .3 seconds on the clock.
“I didn’t know it was going down – I actually thought it was too hard,” Minor said. “We’ve run this play before and my teammates set some good picks. I knew I had to shoot it quick and it just went in.”
The shot capped off a significant North Marion (25-1) rally that saw the Huskies trail by eight points heading into the fourth.
“These kids don’t quit,” said North Marion coach Mike Parrish. “We finally got a little bit of energy there in the fourth quarter, battled back and got some things going to give ourselves a chance to win. We hit it on a big shot at the end.”
There was some confusion as to whether the shot should count, though, and the rules were interpreted by the officials that a player could catch and shoot with 0.3 seconds on the clock.
According to NFHS rule 5-2.5, however, it states: “When play is resumed with a throw-in or free throw and three-tenths (.3) of a second or less remains on the clock, a player may not gain control of the ball and try for a field goal. In this situation, only a tap could score.”
The WVSSAC confirmed after the game that the rule in fact was ‘misapplied.’
Video also later showed that on the play before, the ball actually went out of bounds with 0.4 seconds left on the clock. Had the clock been reset to 0.4, there would have been no controversy on the shot – a catch and shoot would have been, by rule, allowed.
Official video replay for officials during the tournament, however, is only available on Championship Saturday – so that wasn’t an option on Wednesday.
North Marion had the game’s quick start, jumping out to an early 9-0 advantage. Bluefield, though, settled in defensively and outscored the Huskies by 14 points the rest of the half, taking a 29-24 lead into the break.
The Beavers (14-12) built on that lead in the third quarter, stretching their advantage out to 42-34 heading into the fourth.
“To lose like that makes it harder,” said Bluefield coach Tony Mallamaci. “I’m not a time genius, but how you can hold the ball in your hand (and shoot) with 0.3 seconds left, I’m not gifted in that direction.
“They said (the officials) that you can catch and shoot with 0.3 (seconds on the clock),” Mallamaci said. “I’m not opposed to that, but… that’s alright.”
An 8-0 North Marion run in the fourth quarter tied the game at 46-46 with 4:26 remaining.
Hannah Shriver’s bucket with 3:22 to go put North Marion back in front, 50-48.
Trailing 54-51 and under a minute to go, Bluefield’s Emilee Beggs hit a 3 to tie the game with 53 seconds to go, leading up to the game’s final dramatics.
Shriver led North Marion with 21 points, while Minor added 14 and Taylor Buonamici finished with 10 points in the win.
Jaisah Smith led Bluefield with 18 points in the loss.
North Marion moves on to face either No. 4 Bridgeport or No. 5 Frankfort Friday in the semifinals at 1 p.m.
“Every time you come down here you have to have a little bit of luck,” Parrish said. “Today was our lucky day. We didn’t play well. We started off well, but didn’t in between. We have to clean that up and play a full 32 minutes.”