After digging themselves an early 17-point deficit and trailing by 13 at the half, the Lady Wolverines made the necessary adjustments and came storming back to tie the game and force overtime. However, the ball simply didn't bounce their way.
"I thought the kids really responded," said Deer Valley head coach Lindsay Wisely. "We made a lot of adjustments at half time and they did a great job of getting out there and executing and digging themselves out of that (first-half) hole."
Trailing by two points with less than one second on the clock, Deer Valley attempted to recreate the famous Chris Laettner play that propelled Duke over Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA tournament, throwing the ball the length of the floor in an effort to get off a last second jumper. But, the ball deflected off of Emily Allard's fingertips, sealing the win for the Knights, 63-61.
Allard followed up a 26 point, 13 rebound, four-steal game against Berkeley on Saturday night with 8 points, 10 rebounds and three steals on Tuesday night. Patrice Saindon led the Lady Wolverines against Castlemont with 18 points and seven assists, and Cydnie Mixon chipped in with 14 points and eight boards.
Although Deer Valley failed to bring home NCS or CIF State hardware this year, the team did accomplish the goal it set prior to the start of the season - playing 30 games on the year (meaning a deep run at the NCS tourney and an appearance in the State tourney). In some ways, Wisely feels that overcoming the loss of star center Ashley Ellis to academic ineligibility and then fighting their way to the NCS title game was even more impressive than if her players had won the title under optimal circumstances.
"We could have won the section, but we didn't. We could have won state, but we didn't. But, what we accomplished was so much more," said Wisely. "It's something that the girls can look back on and be proud of, knowing that they were part of something special. I couldn't be more proud of what they did."
Although the team loses Ellis and defensive stopper Shenice Cox to graduation this year, a strong core, including Allard, Saindon, Mixon and Deserie Azlin, will return next year looking to build on this year's fantastic run.