Nova needed all seven seconds that remained on an inbound play from midcourt as guard Bernadette Devaney climaxed a thriller, nailing a three-pointer from left corner as time expired to lift the Titans to a 56-53 victory over host Palm Beach Lakes in Saturday’s Region 4-7A final.
Nova (21-7) advances to the state final four in Lakeland next weekend for the second consecutive season as it takes on Haines City.
“We definitely didn’t want to go into overtime with them,” the junior guard said moments after being mobbed by her teammates on the court. She led the Titans with 20 points, her third consecutive 20-point performance in the playoffs.
Devaney had earlier erased Rams two-point lead when she tied the game for the 10th and last time at 53-53 with 58 seconds remaining on a put-back basket off a miss from Trellanie English-Lurry (19 points).
On the ensuing Rams possession, the Titans forced a turnover on an errant pass that sailed out of bounds at midcourt, setting up the frantic, winning play with just :07 remaining. English-Lurry took the inbound pass from Deja Roberts and drove the ball near the free throw line before passing it off to Devaney to highlight a tight fourth quarter as the Titans entered with a 41-39 lead.
NOV (21-7): Devaney 20, English-Lurry 19, Roberts 7, Cowart 5, Lurry 5, Corazza 0, Johnson 0. PBL: Dove 23, Rivera 8, Derrick 8, Johnson 8, Newby 4, Walker 0. Halftime: NOV 23-18. Rebounds: Johnson 12, Lurry 8. Steals: English-Lurry 4. Assists: Lurry 4, Corazza 3. Three-pointers: Devaney 2, Lurry , Dove.
• Region 4-4A final – Coral Springs Charter 43, Gulliver 31: Coral Springs Charter, whose state championship hopes appeared to suffer a crippling blow with the departure of Aisha Edwards, reigning Broward Player of the year, three weeks ago, continued its unlikely march to the State Final Four with a home victory.
“Losing Aisha was tough,” said Panthers guard Emily Williams. “We knew everybody would doubt us and take us out the picture but everybody stepped up in their own way. When people doubted us it gave us motivation to get back to Lakeland.”
Coral Springs Charter (23-7, Source Hoops No. 3) was led by 6-1 junior center Celia Wojcik, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Morgan Smellie added 11 points and Williams had eight points and seven assists for the Panthers.
Jacquar Westbrooks led Gulliver Prep (19-10) with a game-high 15 points.
The Panthers hardly looked like state championship material losing four of its first five games in January. But under the steady direction of first year-coach Ericka Haney, who helped lead Notre Dame to the 2001 National Championship, re-entered the state championship picture by going 5-1 since the departure of Edwards.
GUL (19-10): Westbrooks 15, Nixon 4, Wirsching 8, M. Pyatt 4. CSC (23-7): Wojcik 12, Hall 3, J. Wyatt 6, E. Williams 8, Smellie 11, Smith 3. Halftime: CSC 27-18. Three-pointers: Westbrooks, Smellie 3. Rebounds: Wojcik 10. Assists: E. Williams 7. Steals: Hall 3, Wyatt 3, Smellie 3.
• Region 4-5A final – Dillard 57, Cape Coral 32: Visiting Dillard missed 21 free throws, committed 20 turnovers and had two key starters in foul trouble for much of its regional final.
But Dillard’s significant size advantage and superior depth eventually propelled the team to its 11th state Final Four as Kayla Wright scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the third quarter.