Senior guard Elisha Cobbs admitted she didn’t know if the shot would fall.
Fortunately for Bellevue West, it did.
Cobbs’ layup with 7 seconds left in overtime Tuesday night boosted the top-ranked Thunderbirds to a 67-65 win over crosstown rival Bellevue East in front of a packed house at Bellevue West. The victory lifts the Thunderbirds to 22-1 and drops the fifth-ranked Chieftains to 17-4.
“I wasn’t sure if it was going in,” Cobbs said. “It kind of bounced around up there for a while.”
Bellevue East’s Shelby Quinn had made the first of two free throws to tie the game at 65 with 46 seconds left. She missed the second, and Bellevue West center Kate Liveringhouse grabbed her 10th rebound of the game to set up the winning shot.
The Thunderbirds ran down the clock until Cobbs saw an opening and drove the lane. Her shot caromed off the rim a few times before eventually dropping through, giving Bellevue West the lead.
“Elisha had a lot of different options on that play,” Bellevue West coach Marc Kruger said. “But she made the right read.”
The Chieftains had one last chance as senior guard Taylor Silva drove downcourt and put up a short jumper. But the shot, which appeared to be partially tipped, was no good and Bellevue West had its victory.
Kruger said he was just happy to get the game into overtime. Bellevue East had two great looks near the end of regulation that would have broken a 60-60 tie, but a jumper by Silva and a 3-pointer by freshman guard Rylie Cascio Jensen refused to fall.
“I thought they were both in,” the coach said. “We knew that we’d dodged a bullet, so we said let’s go out there and win this.”
The game seesawed back and forth in the four-minute overtime as the Thunderbirds held a one-point lead three times and Bellevue East held a one-point advantage twice. Quinn’s free throw tied the game for the final time, setting the stage for Cobbs’ game winner.
“They battled and played great defense against us,” Chieftains coach Scott Jensen said. “You’ve got to play exceptionally well to beat a team like that and we just came up a little short.”
Bellevue West trailed by a point after the first quarter, but five 3-pointers in the second quarter — two each by Madi Braun and Taylor Ditoro and one by Chloe Akin-Otiko — helped the Thunderbirds open an eight-point lead. Bellevue West led 48-44 after the third quarter, but the Chieftains refused to fade.
They trailed by five with five minutes left but went on a 10-0 run to grab a 60-55 lead with 2:40 left. A 3-pointer by Braun with 2:20 remaining and a Cobbs layup with 1:04 left forced the overtime.
The game was closer than when the teams met in the semifinals of the Metro holiday tournament Jan. 2. The Thunderbirds won that day 71-59.
“I thought we played better overall,” Jensen said. “But we’ve still got a lot of things to work on.”
Cobbs said the emotion level in the Bellevue West Thunderdome exceeded the atmosphere for the first game between the teams, played at the Civic Auditorium.
“All your friends and family are here,” she said. “It’s a real adrenaline rush to play this game.”
The Thunderbirds had four players in double figures. Liveringhouse led the way with 16 points, followed by Ditoro (15), Braun (13) and Cobbs (10).
Silva and Peyton Hagen led the Chieftains with 14 each.
Bellevue East was playing once again without senior guard Jayla Hobza, who missed her eighth straight game for personal off-the-court reasons. Jensen said the former All-Nebraska performer remains a member of the team.
The Chieftains finish the regular season Friday night at home against defending Class A champion Omaha Central. The Thunderbirds’ final regular-season game will be Saturday night at Papillion-La Vista South.
Bellevue East (17-4) ................. 13 18 13 16 5—65
Bellevue West (22-1) ................. 12 22 14 12 7—67
BE: Peyton Hagen 5-10 2-2 14, Jessica Vernon 2-2 0-0 4, Roshawn Hollie 1-5 2-2 5, Haley Ourada 2-9 0-0 4, Taylor Silva 4-9 5-10 14, Rylie Cascio Jensen 4-11 0-1 9, Amaun Frazier 2-5 0-0 4, Sidni Trotter 2-6 1-2 5, Shelby Quinn 2-4 1-4 5, Jeana Mosley 0-0 1-2 1.
BW: Elisha Cobbs 3-4 3-4 10, Madi Braun 4-9 2-5 13, Julie Targy 0-1 0-0 0, Haelee Kowalski 0-3 3-4 3, Annie Szczepaniak 1-6 3-4 5, Taylor Ditoro 6-8 0-1 15, Chloe Akin-Otiko 1-2 2-2 5, Kate Liveringhouse 7-7 2-2 16.
3-point goals: BE 5-20 (Hagen 2-6, Hollie 1-1, Ourada 0-1, Silva 1-2, Cascio Jensen 1-4, Frazier 0-1, Trotter 0-4, Quinn 0-1), BW 8-19 (Cobbs 1-2, Braun 3-7, Targy 0-1, Kowalski 0-2, Ditoro 3-5, Akin-Otiko 1-2). Rebounds: BE 33 (Quinn 9), BW 33 (Liveringhouse 10). Total fouls: BE 20, BW 21. Fouled out: Akin-Otiko. Turnovers: BE 13, BW 25. Field-goal percentage: BE .393, BW .550. Free-throw percentage: BE .521, BW .681.
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