With Lithia Springs content to hold the ball for the last shot in a tie game, it seemed that the only chance New Manchester would have to come out with a win would be in overtime.
However, Deesha Brefford had other ideas as she stole a Lithia Springs pass attempt with 15 seconds left to go.
That eventually set up Shemyah Wilson’s inbound pass to Aniya Cone, who converted the lay in with 2.9 seconds left to give New Manchester a 48-46 win over the visiting Lions.
“We called a play we call ‘special’ which has three or four different options, [but] none of them were open,” New Manchester head coach Vincent Parks said. “Aniya just did a good job of coming back around to the backside and sealing her [defender] and Shemyah got her the basketball and they executed.”
On the previous Lithia Springs’ possession Brefford, who led all scorers with 16 points, was looking for an opportunity to thwart the Lions’ hope for a game-winning shot.
“I was trying to get to the ball so we can stop them from scoring,” she said. “I was looking forward to getting the steal.”
Parks switched defenses for the final possession as Lithia Springs had hurt New Manchester with its ball movement.
“We decided to matchup because we weren’t rotating very well the entire game playing zone, whether we played 2-3 or 1-3-1,” Parks said. “So, we decided to go man-to-man. We talked to them about making sure [they] were in position to help if they’re away from the basketball and they did a good job of that, and we came up with the steal.”
The Jaguars improved to 15-7 overall and 10-5 in Region 5-AAAAA play. New Manchester’s chance of earning the No. 2 seed and a bye for the region tournament took a hit after its 61-49 loss at South Paulding on Friday.
Villa Rica entered Saturday with a two-game lead over New Manchester and two of its three remaining games being matches with East Paulding and Allatoona, who have combined for over 20 region losses this season. Still, Parks thinks the Jaguars’ season is in their hands.
“It’s been a couple of games where we hindered ourselves,” Parks said. “Like tonight we missed about nine or 10 layups, not rotating on defense, so it’s stuff we need to fix. It’s not necessarily what the other team is doing to us. If we execute and play like we’re capable of playing, like we have played in the beginning of the season, then we will win ballgames.”
New Manchester also lost starting guard Jalisya Glover to a concussion in the South Paulding game and she did not play against Lithia Springs.
Lithia Springs (12-11, 9-7) came into the game on a five-game winning streak, beating Allatoona twice, South Paulding, Chapel Hill, and Paulding County. All of those wins were by double-digits.
Ayanna Dinkins led Lithia Springs with 15 points.