A lot can happen in 3.5 seconds.
On Thursday, it was enough time for Tonishia Childress to race 40 feet, take a dagger and drive it through the heart of Centennial’s girls basketball team.
The Bishop Gorman senior grabbed the ball off an inbounds play in the backcourt with 3.5 seconds to go, sprinted up court and banked in a running 25-footer as the buzzer sounded to give the Gaels a 52-49 win over the Bulldogs in a showdown for the Southwest League title.
“They tried to put as much pressure as they could on us,” Childress said. “I was just trying to get a last shot off. I didn’t know if it was good.”
The Gaels (17-8, 10-0 Southwest) completed a regular-season sweep of Centennial (23-4, 8-2), after beating the Bulldogs 60-59 on Jan. 22, and ended a streak of 13 consecutive league titles won by Centennial since the school opened in 1999. The Gaels won their 15th straight league title.
“We know we could run the basketball floor in three seconds, so we knew we would have the ability to at least get a shot off,” Gorman coach Sheryl Krmpotich said. “We had a couple different options.”
Centennial’s Jada Brown hit two free throws with 1:30 left to tie the game at 49.
Each team committed a turnover before Childress missed a wild shot that Centennial’s Paige Barber rebounded with just more than 30 seconds to go.
Following a timeout, Centennial appeared to be holding for the last shot, but Tamera Williams lost her balance in the lane and was called for traveling just before dishing a pass to Brown, who hit a jumper but had it waved off.
“We just told the kids to lock them up on defense and try to get a steal or a five-second call,” Krmpotich said. “It worked to our advantage.”
Gorman then took a timeout with 3.5 seconds to go and the ball near the top of the key on the opposite end of the floor.
The Bulldogs, who had only three team fouls, likely could have fouled Gorman on the inbounds at least twice to try to burn up the clock but didn’t.
Instead, Childress drove the floor and hit the runner before her teammates and most of Gorman’s student section mobbed her near center court.
Childress, who scored 22 points, including the game-winning hoop with 13.6 seconds left in the teams’ first meeting, finished with 17 points, and backcourt mate April Rivers added 13 points.
“We’re playing together more as a team,” Childress said. “It’s different from the last two years.”
Megan Jacobs supplied nine points and 11 rebounds for the Gaels.
Barber was 6-for-12 on 3-pointers and totaled 18 points to lead Centennial. Tramina Jordan added 11 points, and Brown scored 10 for the Bulldogs, who are expected to meet Gorman again next week for the Sunset Region title and possibly again should both teams advance to the state final.
“It’s huge. It’s a momentum-builder,” Krmpotich said. “It’s a confidence builder to know that in any situation, we can do this.”
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5230.