Putman's halfcourt buzzer-beater lifts Villains to title
Alex Putman really didn’t think she’d end up with the ball. But, with the clock winding down and the game on the line, she took a shot – one that the Bishop McGuinness girls will remember for a long, long time.
With the score tied with 5.2 seconds left, Riverside missed two free throws following a timeout. Putman, who had only been mentioned in the timeout as the inbounder for a play following a make, grabbed the rebound and initially looked to pass.
But, with the seconds quickly ticking away, she let a running shot go at midcourt that died as it hit the back of the rim, bounced off the front and fell through the net. That shot gave the Villains a 61-58 win Saturday in the Dean Smith Center and won their ninth-straight NCHSAA 1A title.
Click here to watch the video of Putman's shot.
“I just got the rebound and let it fly,” said Putman, a junior guard, with a laugh. “I saw that it was on line, but I thought it was going to ricochet off. I looked at the clock, and there were like 1.3 seconds left.
“There was a girl kinda close to me, and I was like, ‘All right, it’s going up.’ I’m still in shock. I don’t even think I saw it go through. I just heard everyone, and then Danielle (Nieters) tackled me.”
Julia Brown scored 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds to earn the Kay Yow MVP award and lead the Villains (29-4), who tied Dallas Bishop Lynch with nine titles and trail only Lynch and Milwaukee Pius XI with 12 each for the longest-ever streak of state titles nationally.
Tia Cappuccio scored 11 points and earned Bishop’s Most Outstanding Player award, while Cameron Nieters, who was limited by foul trouble throughout, followed with seven points and broke 1,000 points for her career in the final seconds.
“For me and Cameron, it’s obviously really big because it’s our senior year and it’s our last game,” Brown said. “This is the only way we wanted it to end. It feels amazing just to continue the legacy and to know that your year was the year you kept it going.”
Bishop started strong, leading 17-9 at the end of the first, but struggled in the second as the Knights (29-1) inched within three in the final minute of the half. But Brown made a layup, and McKenzie Rochford made a three-point play to give the Villains a 29-22 lead into halftime.
Bishop again played well to open the third, stretching its lead to 12 two minutes in. But Riverside, which was led by team Most Outstanding Player Kayla Jones with 31 points and 14 rebounds, pulled within 43-41 to close the quarter and tied it on the first possession of the fourth.
The Villains stayed tied or barely ahead until the Knights scored to go up 58-56 on Jones’ driving layup with 1:03 left. But Bishop tied it on Nieters’ layup with 57.5 seconds left. After working it to 10 seconds and calling timeout, Riverside drew the foul with 5.2 seconds left.
“I was thinking, ‘How are we going to get ourselves out of this?’” Robinson said. “The first one looked good and it jiggled out. The second looked even better and it spun out. And Alex, who of the five girls on the floor is by far the slowest, had the ball in her hands.
“I give her credit. She didn’t panic. She weaved twice and let it fly. Whatever happened, it took me that moment of pause and think, ‘Did we just win this game?’ That was pretty, pretty, pretty incredible.”