CLAYTON — Persistence paid off in a big way for the Covenant Christian girls’ basketball team Friday night. Some untimely Cascade turnovers also helped the Warriors’ cause.
Trailing 42-32 with 4:16 left in the game, Covenant went on a 16-4 run to close out the Cadets, 48-46.
Covenant sophomore Sarah McLimore, who had never played in a varsity basketball game, hit the game-winner with 3.8 seconds remaining from the left side of the lane with two Cascade defenders draped over her.
“I think there are a lot of teams that would have lost their composure tonight (and) would’ve folded,” Covenant coach Joe Smith said. “They didn’t panic and were pretty calm.”
McLimore and her sister, Rachel, led the Warriors in scoring with 14 and 17 points, respectively.
Covenant took advantage of a stretch in the fourth where Cascade committed five turnovers that turned into a 9-0 Warriors run.
“We had a spell there and we only had two timeouts and you don’t want to burn one then, but I guess we should have,” Cascade coach Don Helmick said. “We got into a situation and it really wasn’t due to the pressure, it was due to us losing patience.”
Cascade dominated the first half after taking the lead at 12-11 with 1:45 left in the first quarter, and built that into a 15-11 advantage by the end of the period.
Covenant was outscored 17-7 in the second quarter and trailed 32-18 at the break.
Cascade’s Audra Smallwood hit three 3-pointers in the second and led all scorers with nine at the half.
Covenant started the third on a 5-0 run with a quick 3-pointer from Kylie Bright and basket by Sarah McLimore.
Cascade responded with an 8-0 run and looked to pick up where it left off, but the Cadets’ offense faded down the stretch, scoring just eight more points the rest of the way.
“They picked the defense up a little but we just weren’t as patient in the second half for whatever reason,” Helmick said.
Covenant started a full-court press down 40-23 with 2:54 remaining in the third and outscored Cascade 25-6 the rest of the way. Covenant held Cascade to 14 second-half points.
“We talk a lot about defense in our program,” Smith said. “We made some adjustments and our girls did a really nice job.”
Sydney Stein led Cascade with a double-double, 15 points and 12 rebounds.
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports editor Jake Thompson on Twitter @JacobEThompson.