02/27/09 — Holmes' FG keeps GHS in playoffs

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Holmes' FG keeps GHS in playoffs

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 27, 2009 1:46 PM

The last-second shot counted -- this time.

LaQuita Holmes' offensive putback bounced off the rim and slipped through the net as time expired, lifting Goldsboro to a come-from-behind 56-55 victory over Burlington Cummings on Thursday evening.

Holmes' game-winning shot occurred 24 hours after the Cougar boys lost in similar fashion to Pittsboro Northwood. The officials waved off Donald Lewis' last-second 3-pointer, which hit nothing but net as the red light gleamed behind the scoreboard on Wednesday evening.

"Do you see any (new) gray hair?" said GHS coach Brandy Smith as she held her head in disbelief. "There has to be one or two up there somewhere."

Holmes' basket propelled the Cougars (20-8 overall) into a sectional championship game for the first time since 2005 when Gladys McClary roamed the sideline as head coach. Goldsboro entertains Hillsborough Orange at 7 p.m. today in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2-A playoffs.

The winner advances to the eastern regionals next week in Greenville.

Smith almost experienced deja vu against the Cavaliers.

The third-year coach and GHS alum hoped her team wouldn't suffer the same fate as the boys, who played a passive two-plus minutes and squandered a five-point, fourth-quarter lead against Northwood one night earlier.

But her fears quickly became reality.

Goldsboro's guards panicked in the delay offense and Cummings picked up numerous steals to stay within striking distance. The Cavaliers (17-7) erased a four-point deficit in a 30-second stretch when Shae Mebane drained a game-tying free throw with 13.5 seconds to go.

The Cougars turned the ball over on their next possession. Cummings crashed the offensive boards and missed three consecutive shots underneath the basket before Nakia Johnson drew a foul. Johnson hit the second free throw to put the Cavaliers ahead 55-54.

Smith called timeout.

"I told the girls before we came back out (after the timeout) 'those of you who were here last night, don't let the referees be the determining factor of this game'," said Smith. "Don't allow them to say who wins or loses this game."

Ninety-four feet from their own basket, the Cougars put the ball in play and time quickly ticked away. Victoria Williams received a pass from point guard Ki'Ana Williams and lofted a jumper that nicked the front of the rim.

The ball fell into Holmes' hands and she kissed it off the glass as the buzzer sounded. The Cavaliers stood in disbelief as their coaches raced onto the court to appeal the last-second shot.

"I was looking for the referees to see what they were going to do. I knew what had happened last night," said Smith. "They made the right call tonight."

Goldsboro's Akeyanna Whitlor just missed a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. Zeara McDuffie contributed 10 points, five rebounds and two assists. Ki'Ana Williams dished out a playoff-high 13 assists, but failed to score in double figures for the third consecutive game.

Mebane led Cummings, which missed 20 free throws, with a game-high 21 points. DeKendra Jones added 14 points and Alexus Vanhook knocked down 10. The Cavaliers shot a miserable 4 of 14 at the charity stripe in the final period.