Kenmore overcame the loss of several of its top players due to foul trouble and a five-point deficit in the game’s final minute to upset Firestone 64-61 and win the City Series championship for the first time in five years.
The Cardinals (14-8, 10-3) trailed Firestone (14-7, 12-1) 61-56 with only 58.3 seconds remaining. The Falcons’ bench was first called for a technical foul for someone being on the court, which made it 61-57 after a free throw and gave Kenmore possession. That’s when Kenmore sophomore Q’deare Dix took over the game.
Dix first drove to the hoop and got a running jumper to fall to make it 61-58 with 50 seconds on the clock. The Falcons were able to inbound the ball and pass it around the perimeter as Kenmore was unable to foul. Finally with 20 seconds left, Dix stole a pass, raced down the floor, made a layup as she was fouled and made the ensuing free throw to tie the score 61-61.
Firestone quickly attacked the basket, trying for the game-winner, but missed the shot. Dix scrambled for the ball, came away with the rebound after being tied up and was fouled again, putting her on the free-throw line with five seconds left.
Dix missed the first but made the second for a 62-61 lead, and the Falcons’ inbound pass down the sideline resulted in a turnover. The Cardinals’ inbound pass would have been stolen had it not been for Dix, who fought for the ball again and was fouled a third time. She made both free throws to end the game.
“It feels great. I’ve been waiting for this,” said Dix, who finished with a team-high 21 points and three rebounds. “It took heart to push through and heart to win this game.”
Firestone entered the game undefeated in the City Series this season and had won the past four City Series playoff title games.
Kenmore last won the championship in 2009.
“They have heart, and it’s hard to teach heart,” Kenmore coach Yontami Jones said. “It means a lot because we were the underdogs. And last year we were undefeated coming into this game and they beat us. So I told the girls it’s our turn.”
The Cardinals did all this despite being without the services of three of their best guards, senior Whiauanna Jeffries (12 points, 14 rebounds, five steals), sophomore Sarah Taylor (seven points, four assists) and senior Marshae Smith, who all fouled out with more than 2:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Jones called on Dix to carry the burden in the game’s closing moments.
“I told her when you get in the game this last minute, you have to take over,” Jones said. “You can’t do all that fancy dribbling, you have to go to the basket. And she did exactly what we needed her to do.”
Kenmore senior Shannon Hall added 17 points.
Firestone was led by junior City Series Player of the Year Darian Carter, who scored a game-high 29 points to go with 13 rebounds and four steals. Firestone coach Audley McGill declined to comment after the game.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.