WINLOCK — As Toledo trailed by two with no timeouts and watched a Winlock free throw bounce off the rim with 9.9 seconds left, they didn’t have the time to slow things down and look for the best shot.
They also didn’t have time to overthink it.
The Riverhawks pushed the ball up the floor and it wound up in the hands of Rose Dillon wide open on the right wing. Dillon settled, fired and found nothing but nylon as she drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left to help the Riverhawks down the Cardinals 37-36 in a Central 2B League showdown on Wednesday.
“I just knew we were down and my first reaction was just to shoot it,” Dillon said. “I had been sort of on for the game and I just was like ‘Well, here goes nothing.’”
Dillon said a shot from inside the arc never crossed her mind. She was in it to win it.
“She did what she had to do and she knocked it down,” Toledo coach Randy Wood said. “She played a good game…I needed Rose in there all night tonight and she came through at the end.”
After the shot fell the Toledo faithful erupted and echoed through the Winlock gym. Although they were on the road, they felt right at home as they closed out the win.
“Honestly I was confused at what was going on because I looked at the score and it hadn’t quite changed and I didn’t know if it had counted or not yet,” Dillon said. “But everybody was celebrating so it was like ‘OK, they had to have counted it.’”
Dillon’s heroics seemed impossible just three quarters earlier. The Riverhawks and Cardinals felt the chill of the winter break, struggling to find offense after two weeks off as the score sat at just 5-3 through a quarter.
“We had some open shots there in the first quarter,” Wood said. “We missed quite a few lay-ins and I was getting pretty worried there. Then we changed some things up and they changed some things up.
The Riverhawks made just five non-threes on the night, finishing 11-for-43 from the field as a team.
Aside from Dillon’s clutch bucket, the game looked like it was going to be decided at the free-throw line. Addison Hall made eight free-throws in the fourth quarter alone as part of a 10-for-10 showing at the charity stripe for the Cardinals’ leading scorer. But the Riverhawks managed to foul when the ball was out of Hall’s hands and the Cardinals missed three of their last four free throws, leaving the door cracked for Toledo.
“We wanted Addison to have the ball,” Winlock coach Dracy McCoy said. “She was 10-for-10 from the free-throw line so that did work for the most part except for the very end there.”
In total, 17 of the game’s combined 30 fourth quarter points came at the free throw line, with the Riverhawks staying close by shooting 7-for-10 from the line to keep the game close.
Dillon’s go-ahead three was her third long ball of the game. She also went 3-for-3 from the line in the fourth as she was fouled attempting another from beyond the arc on her way to leading the Riverhawks with 12 points.
Vanesa Rodriguez also found some rhythm from 3-point land, going 3-for-3 in an 11 point showing. Abbie Marcil got her work done on the boards with a team-high seven rebounds.
“I think we were ready for this game,” Dillon said. “I think Winlock doubted us a little bit just because we’re kind of a new team…but we definitely had something to prove tonight and I think that will go through the whole season.”
Hall led all scorers with 16 points thanks to her success from the line and nabbed 13 rebounds for a double-double. But Hall shot just 3-for-11 from the field, exemplifying a slow shooting night for the Cardinals altogether as they made just one 3-pointer on three attempts on the night.
Although they didn’t have the impact on offense they normally did, McCoy didn’t blame the loss on what they did on the floor as much as their mindset when they were out there.
“I don’t know that it’s so much of basketball fundamental, offense-defense issue as it is a mental issue of ‘we’re playing our rival and we never beat them,’” McCoy said.
McCoy said she and her staff will give their players the tools to shake off the loss, but put the more pressing matters on them.
“They need to decide what team they want to be,” McCoy said. “If we want to be winners and compete or land at the bottom of the barrel, the middle of the barrel, that’s up to the girls.”
Wood noted that the Riverhawks have plenty to mop up as they enter the heart of their schedule and hopes they can avoid a letdown game after the emotions of the last-second win on Wednesday.
Toledo (7-2) will be back home against Toutle Lake on Friday.
Winlock (5-4, 0-2 C2BL) heads to Wahkiakum on Friday.