LAGRANGE — Points were at a premium in Brookside’s 33-32 Patriot Athletic Conference win over Keystone on Wednesday and the last two points made all the difference.
Lauren Verlato’s twisting jumper in the lane with 4.9 seconds left gave the Cardinals their second victory over the Wildcats this season.
With 12 seconds left, Brookside inbounded the ball to Verlato, who went around a Jenna Rothman screen and into the lane, where she spun toward the basket and let it fly.
The ball bounced three times on the rim before falling through the net.
“I really wasn’t expecting it to go in, especially when it was bouncing around,” Verlato said. “I give it all to my teammates. The pass was great and we ran the inbounds play perfectly.
Everything went perfect and I just got lucky.”
Brookside coach Brad Barhorst said his team didn’t panic after losing the lead in the fourth quarter.
“The fact that it was a one-point game gave us, I think, a little more confidence,” he said. “If we had to hit one to tie it we might have been a little more worried. Lauren hit that great shot and Hannah Begany hit that big three right before it.
“She came in cold and drilled it. It was awesome out of two seniors tonight.”
Keystone (3-11, 3-6 PAC) struggled offensively against Brookside’s 2-3 zone all game, shooting just 25 percent in the first half (5-of-20). The Cardinals (6-7, 4-5) weren’t much better, hitting just 7-of-26 from the floor in the first half.
Brookside led 19-15 at halftime and in the third quarter both teams’ offensive struggles continued.
Jelene Williams’ basket at the 4:50 mark of the third gave the Cardinals a 21-15 lead before the Wildcats rattled off the next five points to pull within one at 21-20.
Rothman’s basket in the final minute of the third gave Brookside a 23-20 lead it would carry into the fourth quarter.
After Rothman opened the scoring in the fourth with another basket, Keystone answered with a 10-3 run. Lilly Cassell’s basket at the 3:08 mark gave Keystone its first lead (29-28) since early in the first quarter before a Maddi Harrington free throw made it 30-28.
Begamy answered for Brookside, hitting a contested 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:24 left to play, but Taylor Stefan gave the Wildcats the lead again when her short jumper in the lane made the score 32-31.
Harrington missed the front end of a one-and-one with 24.7 seconds to go to set the stage for Verlato’s heroics.
After scoring just 20 points through three quarters, Keystone put 12 on the board in the fourth.
“I’m happy with our girls’ effort,” Wildcats coach Scott Terry said. “I really liked the way we executed in the fourth quarter … that’s probably the best we’ve looked in our zone offense all year. In the fourth quarter we were patient and got some good looks.
“We took a lead and executed down at the end as well, too. After three reverse-spin dribbles and a toss-up the ball hits the rim a few times and falls in. What are you going to do?”
Rothman and Verlato each scored seven points to lead Brookside. Rothman added a career-high 20 rebounds and blocked three shots.
Ashley Elliott led Keystone with a game-high 13 points, but Brookside wanted to focus on sophomore guard Madi Herrington defensively. Herrington scored seven points on a pair of 3-pointers and a free throw.
“Our kids were confident the whole game because our defense was so good,” Barhorst said. “They snuck out on us a couple of times tonight, but our goal was that if we were going to lose, Harrington wasn’t going to beat us.
“She had 18 against us the last time and took the game to overtime almost by herself. She got away from us twice and drilled it both times. But our kids were confident and we knew we weren’t going to give up.”
Despite the loss, Terry thinks his team can take something from its performance in the fourth quarter.
“We’re offensively challenged,” he said. “We have been all year. We battled and I’m really happy that we did what we were supposed to do in the fourth quarter. That hasn’t always been the case for us this year, so that’s something we’re going to try to build on.”
Brookside 33, Keystone 32
BROOKSIDE (33): Jenna Rothman 3-1-7, Sarah Torres 2-0-6, Tori-Ann Aliff 1-0-3, Hannah Begany 2-0-5, Jelene Williams 1-0-2, Ellexis Trac 1-1-3, Lauren Verlato 3-0-7. Totals 13-2-33.
KEYSTONE (32): Madi Herringtin 2-1-7, Alexis Bowen 1-0-3, Taylor Stefan 2-3-7, Ashley Elliott 6-1-13, Lily Cassell 1-0-2. Totals 12-5-32.
Brookside 10 9 4 10 — 33
Keystone 5 10 5 12 — 32
Three-point goals: Brookside 5-13 (Torres 2, Aliff, Begany, Verlato), Keystone 3-9 (Herrington 2, Bowen). Field goals: Brookside 13-44 (29.5 percent), Keystone 12-41 (29.2 percent). Free throws: Brookside 2-4 (50 percent), Keystone 5-10 (50 percent). Rebounds: Brookside 37 (Rothman 20), Keystone 26 (Stefan 10). Turnovers: Brookside 14, Keystone 13. Total fouls: Brookside 13, Keystone 8.
Junior varsity: Brookside, 31-14