SPEEDWAY — The Cascade Cadets girls’ basketball team was .01 seconds away from their first sectional title since the 2006-07 season last night.
Trailing by a point with 8.1 seconds left, Speedway’s Allison Nash put up a shot from the right wing that was rebounded by teammate Bailey Smith. As Smith turned from underneath the far left corner of the backboard, she brought the ball up from near her waist with a desperate, underhanded shot that didn’t have a chance.
However, a whistle by an official put her at the free throw line as the Sparkplugs trailed 60-59. Smith went on to make her two free throws, giving Speedway a 61-60 victory over the Cadets.
“To lose on a call like that with that amount of time… ,” Cascade coach Don Helmick said as his voice trailed off. “We had a season that started and we were predicted to win eight or nine games and finish in the middle of our conference. We got to the sectional championship game and felt we had it. This really hurts.
“I’ll get to coach again, but we have two seniors that will never play again and I hurt for them.”
Both teams went on runs throughout the game and fought hard, setting up a wild fourth quarter finish.
Cascade led by two, 45-43, heading into the final period but were a little shaken with the loss of Mallorie Smith with under 10 seconds in the third. Smith was carried off the court after hurting her ankle.
Helmick inserted freshman Casey Bell into the lineup and the Cadets breathed a collective sigh of relief when Smith rejoined them on the sidelines but was unable to go back into the game.
Speedway took advantage of Cascade’s adjustment period and continued on with a 12-0 run that started at the end of the third, giving the Sparkplugs a 49-45 advantage.