Late bucket pushes Pinnacle to OT win
Raycee Birch's bucket beats buzzer, gives Pinnacle important sweep in Region 19 play
Down by one and with just 10 seconds left on the clock, Pinnacle's last play came with everything on the line.
The end result was better than they could have asked for.
Pinnacle's Raycee Birch took the inbounds pass, drove past Monument Valley defenders in the paint and put up a layup that went through the basket sending the home fans into a frenzy and giving the Lady Panthers a 50-49 overtime win on Saturday afternoon.
Birch said PHS head coach Rob Harmon drew up a different variation of the play during a timeout before the final play but Monument Valley's defense prevented it from working. So Birch did what she was taught to do.
"I just took it to the hoop," Birch said of the final play.
While the final play by Birch may be most remembered in the win, Pinnacle wouldn't have made it into overtime or survived through the first 4:50 of the extra period without a handful of other key moments.
Dellenie Paletta hit 1-of-2 free throws in the final seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime. In overtime, Maggie Syrett helped take over for Pinnacle as she got a steal leading to a fast break opportunity. Syrett was fouled by a Monument Valley player sending her crashing hard onto the floor with her elbow taking the brunt of the collision.
Favoring her elbow and with tears in her eyes, Syrett stayed in the game and made 1-of-2 free throws to give Pinnacle a 48-47 lead.
"I just put all of my heart into it," said Syrett.
Monument Valley retook the lead on a basket and had an opportunity to seal the win, but a turnover in the final seconds opened the door for Pinnacle's last chance to pick up the win.
Syrett and Birch, who finished with 15 and 13 points respectively, both said the large home crowd played a big role in helping the team down the stretch. While there was many Pinnacle fans, a large contingent of Monument Valley fans made the trip up to watch the teams. The mix of fans made for an exciting atmosphere that saw each team's fans get louder with each basket down the stretch.
"I loved playing in front of that crowd," said Birch. "It made things really fun."
Paletta, who hit the free throw to send the game into overtime, finished with five points. Courtney Hunter added 12 points and Tiana Burton had five points for the Lady Panthers.
The overtime win capped off a big weekend for Pinnacle as they had defeated Navajo Mountain 63-50 on Friday afternoon.
Pinnacle, 5-9 overall and 3-3 in Region 19 play, now finds themselves in the thick of the Region 19 race and the two wins helped better their chances of advancing to their first 1A State Tournament appearance in school history.
"This win can be a real confidence booster for the team," said Harmon noting the win over Monument Valley was the girls' first in school history. "Everyone on the team, including Maggie, stepped up and gave their all."