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Lady Leps pull out amazing OT win

| Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Belle Vernon's #32 Tiernie Singleton puts up two in the last seconds of the 3rd quarter against West Mifflin's #13 Paige Flore, at Belle Vernon. Jim Ference | The Valley Independent

There are times when something happens and people remember where they were when it happened.

For those in the Belle Vernon Area High School gym Monday night, something happened alright, and no one in attendance will forget it anytime soon.

In a key Section 4 AAA contest, the Lady Leps (13-4, 7-2) downed West Mifflin (7-10, 6-3), 64-58, in overtime to take over sole possession of second place in a game that left second-year BVA coach Lisa Fairman speechless.

The victory for BVA was the first over West Mifflin since 1988.

“I don't know what I am supposed to say,” Fairman said moments after the final horn. “I can't believe that just happened.”

What Fairman was talking about happened at the end of regulation.

Down 51-48 with less than 10 seconds to go, BVA turned the ball over and fouled West Mifflin's Alyssa Cairns with 0.7 left on the clock.

Things looked bleak for BVA at best and the Lady Leps' collective dejection was obvious with one look at the team's bench.

The opposite could be said for West Mifflin as the Lady Titans jumped for joy, but one of its players that was on the bench in her warm-up ran on to the court to celebrate a little too early.

The premature celebration led to a technical foul and left BVA with the slightest of hopes.

The faint glimmer of optimism grew a little when Cairns missed the free throw but she made the second to make the score 52-48.

The Lady Leps subbed in sophomore Meaghan Murphy, the top free throw shooter on the team, and the junior calmly sank both shots to cut the West Mifflin lead to 52-50.

BVA would get the ball, but it was out of timeouts and had under a second to make something happen.

Senior Natalie Bashada took the ball out of bounds on the sideline, and Fairman had called for a lob play to senior Jess Slagus.

The play wasn't there, so Bashada threw the ball to the block where Slagus caught the ball and banked in a leaner as the horn sounded to send the game to overtime.

“Natalie made a great read and play there,” Fairman said. “”And Jess came through with the shot.”

In overtime, BVA put the game away as it hit eight out of 11 free throws, but it was a lay-up from sophomore Kaitlin Thomas that tied the score at 54-54 that got things going.

Once the game ended, ironically with the ball in the hands of sophomore Kaitlyn Slagus following a steal, the Lady Leps celebrated the win although it did not come pretty.

There were 54 fouls called, with BVA going 24 of 45 from the line and West Mifflin making 26 of 37 free throw attempts.

West Mifflin had three players foul out and was called for a pair of technicals while BVA saw two players foul out.

Kaitlyn Slagus and fellow sophomore Tiernie Singleton both finished with 17 points while Jess Slagus added 15.

Singleton tied her career-high with her scoring effort while Kaitlyn Slagus grabbed a career-best 26 rebounds and her older sister Jess added 18.

Jess Slagus, the team's leading scorer, struggled as she could not get her shot to fall, but Fairman said that the team stepped up.

“Everyone knows Jess is our leader but tonight, other girls helped carry us,” she said. “I have told the girls that other teams in our section have star players but we have super players and are a super team.

“It showed tonight.”

What Fairman could not show was the look of belief.

“If you told me before the game that we would be behind by that score with that much time left considering how well West Mifflin played and we would win, I would have taken it,” she said while smiling.

“I don't know that I would have believed it.”

West Mifflin was paced by Cairns (15), Ciara Patterson (10) and Paige Flore (10).

BVA clinched a playoff spot and hosts Thomas Jefferson Thursday in a section contest.

Bill Hughes is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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