COVINGTON — With her team facing a five-point deficit and not showing much energy midway through the third quarter in the opening round of the Division III sectional girls basketball tournament, National Trail senior Bobbi Grimes launched a 3-pointer from the left wing.
When the ball went through the hoop and touched nothing but net, it seemed to give the Blazers the spark they needed.
The basket started an 11-0 run for Trail, which turned a 16-11 deficit into a 22-16 lead, and ultimately a 32-29 win over Ben Logan on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Covington High School.
“That was big. I thought she felt going into the game she was going to make one,” National Trail coach James Byrd said. “She wanted to make a three her senior year. She hadn’t made one in high school. But she can shoot, she really can. She believed in herself there and knocked it down. I thought it was a big turning point for us for sure. She’s just one of those kids who’s just great. A great teammate and everybody pulls for her.”
The tournament win was the first for Trail since 2013 and sets up a date with state No. 3 Waynesville on Tuesday, Feb. 20.
“I think nerves really got the better of us,” Byrd said. “Especially for some of the girls who had to play more than they usually do.”
Trail was without the services of starting guard Savana Abner, who missed the game due to an injury.
Trail led 9-6 after the first quarter. The Blazers were held scoreless in the second quarter but only trailed 11-9 at the half, thanks to its defense.
Ben Logan pushed its led to 14-9 and was up 16-11 with just under five minutes to play in the third before Grimes connected on her first career made 3-pointer.
Trail held a 22-18 lead after three.
The Blazers were 26-20 and had a chance to extend the lead to double-digits but missed a couple of layups, which allowed the Raiders to get back into the game.
Ben Logan closed to within 26-25 with 3:26 left.
An old-fashioned 3-point play by Makena Laird, who scored eight points, gave Trail a 29-25 lead with 2:49 to go. Ben Logan tied the game at 29-29 with 1:34 left.
A basket by Skyler Ward, who finished with 14 points, put Trail back on top 31-29 with 1:05 left and a free throw by Evan Byrd with 27 seconds left made the score 32-29.
Ben Logan misfired on a three-pointer at the buzzer.
“Defensively, I thought we were good all game,” James Byrd said. “That was important. I knew we had to play good defensively and start making shots. Obviously, we made enough to win. I thought the effort was good, the energy was good.”
Byrd said he is happy for his team.
“It’s been a while since the girls have won a tournament game. It’s good for them. I’m happy for the girls,” he said.
Byrd said his team is looking forward to the challenge of playing top-seeded and unbeaten Waynesville.
“They’re really good,” he said. “But we have a chance, though. We’ll prepare and we’ll get after them and give it our best shot.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH