Nova’s Bernadette Devaney took a pass from Kiani Lurry and knocked down a three-pointer at the buzzer to help the Titans girls’ basketball team stun host Palm Beach Lakes 56-53 in the Region 4-7A final on Saturday.
The Rams used a box-and-one defense to guard Devaney most of the game but paid when Devaney got just enough space to launch the winning shot.
“I looked at the clock and knew I had to shoot it,” Devaney said. “I knew it was going in. My first look was to the referee for him to raise his hands up. When he did, my teammates and I just started screaming with joy.”
Devaney’s late-game heroics were par for the course in Nova’s unlikely run to its second consecutive state final four with three consecutive regional road playoff victories.
The Titans, which lost 51-45 to Sebastian River, the eventual 2011-12 Class 7A state champion, in the state semifinals last February, carry the underdog tag against Haines City (27-4) in the Class 7A state semifinals at the Lakeland Center on Friday.
Nova (21-7) will face a Hornets team riding a 13-game winning streak.
“After we lost the district championships, I’m sure there were less people on our bandwagon,” Titans coach Jason Hively said. “We’ve been telling our girls to stick with it and keep working. We don’t have much size and get out-rebounded most nights, so we have made defense our identity.”
Trellanie English-Lurry has been a steadying force and her sister, Kiani Lurry has emerged into a Division I prospect, Devaney, who averages 15.4 points per game, will garner most of Haines City’s defensive attention.
Devaney scored 20 points each in regional wins against Coconut Creek, South Broward and Palm Beach Lakes. Devaney might not impress with her speed, but her confidence in late-game shooting situations and effortless stroke, makes her the ultimate closer for a Titans team that overcomes its glaring lack of size with a relentless press.