NEW PARIS — National Trail’s girls’ basketball team got a much needed win last week.
Coming off a disappointing loss to Brookville earlier in the week, the Blazers needed overtime to beat Bradford, 54-51, on Thursday, Dec. 21.
Trail needed a late three-pointer from Evan Byrd to force overtime.
Having three players foul out and two others playing with four fouls, Trail Coach Michael Paige said his team kept its composure in a tough situation, which also included a late technical foul for a second delay of game violation.
Sophomore Makena Laird had 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Blazers.
Byrd, a junior, finished with 13 points, five rebounds and four steals.
Freshman Lexi Benedict also made four huge free throws late, according to Paige. Benedict finished with six points.
There were several moments throughout the Cross County Conference game that could have changed the outcome.
Bradford got off to a strong start as the Railroaders built a 9-7 first quarter lead. But they went cold in the second quarter, and National Trail went on a 10-0 run to go up 17-9.
The Railroaders broke their scoring drought with 2:14 left in the half and went into the halftime break down 20-14.
After the intermission the Railroaders regrouped and came out playing stronger. By the end of the third quarter they had cut their deficit to 28-24.
Bradford sank four free throws early in the fourth quarter to knot the score at 28-28 with 5:25 left in the regulation. It was the first time in almost two full quarters that the Railroaders had tied the score.
With 4:27 remaining, Bradford went up 30-28, and from there it was back and forth through the remainder of the period.
National Trail drained a 3-pointer to retake the lead then Bradford went back on top and put Trail in 39-35 deficit.
National Trail continued to battle and tied the score with just 26 seconds remaining. However, after the basket the Blazers were called for their second delay of game, resulting in a technical foul.
Bradford made the two free throws then moments later drained another free throw to put the Railroaders up 42-39 with 18.7 seconds remaining.
Quick fouls by both teams resulted in four more free throws, leaving the score at 44-41 with less than 10 seconds remaining. With less than five seconds left Byrd sank a 3-pointer to force overtime, 44-44.
National Trail scored first in overtime then Bradford scored to knot the score at 46-46 and eventually took a 50-49 lead.
National Trail outscored Bradford 6-2 in the final 80 seconds to give the Blazers a 54-51 victory.
Against Brookville, on Tuesday, Dec. 19, Trail suffered a 49-42 loss.
Laird scored a team-high 12 points to go with five rebounds. Junior by Savanna Abner had nine points and senior JaLynn Byrd also added five steals.
Trail (4-4, 1-2 CCC) is scheduled to play at Franklin-Monroe on Thursday, Dec. 28 and will host Eaton on Saturday, Dec. 30.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.