Just when all appeared lost, Firestone’s team leaders came through when the Falcons needed them most.
Darian Carter and Yolanda Sims made the big plays down the stretch as Firestone overcame a nearly game-long deficit and remained unbeaten in the City Series with a 58-56 road victory over Kenmore on Thursday night.
Carter, who scored nine of her 15 points in the fourth quarter, and Sims, who led all scorers with 19, combined for all the Falcons’ points in a deciding 8-1 run that denied Kenmore’s bid to take over the league lead.
“At first I wasn’t playing hard and I wasn’t hustling but at the end, I started getting it together,” said Carter, a 5-foot-10 junior. “I got a couple steals and blocks, and got the and-one.”
And no play was bigger than her steal and driving layup that put Firestone (9-5, 7-0) up 57-53 with 57 seconds left. She was also fouled on the play, though she missed the free throw. That was just seconds after Sims, a 5-9 senior, grabbed an offensive rebound and made the basket that put the Falcons ahead to stay.
“We’ve just got to keep our head up and not give up,” said Carter, who led her team with 11 rebounds. “We never gave up. We knew we were going to win this game. We never let them have it, no matter how much we were down by.”
But it was a far different game than the Falcons’ 58-36 win at Firestone on Dec. 5. Kenmore (9-6, 6-2) led 30-24 at the half, 39-36 after three quarters and 48-43 with 4:58 remaining as Kenmore’s Sarah Taylor made four free throws in a row, twice converting both ends of 1-and-1 opportunities.
Taylor, a 5-3 sophomore, led the Cardinals with 18 points. Teammate Shannon Hall, a 5-6 senior, scored 13 and 5-2 senior Marshae Smith added 12.
“I think they got a little flustered and panicked a little bit,” Kenmore coach Yontami Jones said. “We were in control the whole game and if we do the extra box-outs, if we get the extra pass up earlier, the game would be a little different. I think most of them kept their heads in the game. Taylor played a very good game. I was proud of her.”
Taylor also made a 3-pointer at the buzzer that made it a two-point final margin.
A layup by Sims cut the deficit to 52-51 and Carter’s follow-up basket gave Firestone a 53-52 lead with 1:57 left. The Cardinals’ Autumn Mitchell split two free throws to tie it before Sims’ layup made it 55-53.
“I’m a senior on the team,” Sims said. “I’ve watched it happen, I’ve seen it happen when I was a freshman and everybody else had to get it done. So I felt it was time for me to get it done.”
Despite the comeback, Firestone coach Audley McGill did not appear pleased with his team’s effort for most of the game.
“I don’t know what we were doing,” he said, shaking his head. “We didn’t play hard until the last two minutes of the game. Kenmore outworked us, outhustled us and at the end, we decided we wanted to play. That’s the only reason we won.
“We gave Kenmore life. They were winning the whole game until the last two minutes. We’ve got to play hard like we did at the end, at the beginning.”
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