By Big Red staff
If Jasmine Hardy, the Alemany Warriors’ star forward, had hit the second free throw, the game would’ve been over. The odds of coming back from a four-point deficit with eight seconds to play in overtime are slim to the point of near-impossibility. The Warriors would have won, and the Chaminade Eagles would’ve had a shot at an outright league title.
Instead, Hardy missed the critical second free throw, giving the Wolverines the ball back with 8.8 seconds remaining. Kiki Iriafen ’21 pulled down the rebound and dumped the ball off to Jayda Ruffus-Milner ’18. Coach Melissa Hearlihy had no timeouts left. Ruffus-Milner sprinted down the court and spotted sharpshooter Melanie Hirsch ’18 racing to the corner. She passed to Hirsch. Hirsch fired.
Bucket. Tie game.
The Wolverines would go on to win in the second overtime period, 85-77.
“I knew we were down by three, and I know my role on the team is to shoot those threes.,” an emotional Hirsch said after the game. “I’ve been preparing for this moment since freshman year.”
Hirsch went on to describe the play in detail, from the defender’s position to the pass from Ruffus-Milner. But what she said to finish her answer might’ve best captured the mood in Taper Gymnasium that night.
“It was perfect,” Hirsch said. “It was perfect.”
Hirsch’s clutch game-tying shot is the 2018 Big Red Moment of the Year.
The fans had shown up for senior night, one of the few times that season that the girls’ basketball team played in front of a packed house. After a slow start, the Wolverines staked out a 30-23 lead at halftime.
“I think I’ll remember the crowd that showed up that night and my friends coming with signs to support me,” guard Ashlee Wong ’18 said. “It’s nice knowing you have people on and off the court that help give you the confidence you need to do well.”
The Warriors battled back, taking the lead late in the third quarter, and the two teams finished tied in regulation to force overtime.
In the extra period, it was the Warriors who came out firing, taking a six-point lead with just 30 seconds remaining. Then the madness began. The Wolverines scored a pair of buckets, helped along the way by an Alemany one-and-one miss at the foul line. Hardy missed her second free throw and the rest was history.
“Once Hardy missed, I knew if anyone could make a three to win, it would be Melanie,” Wong said.
The win wasn’t just an emotional affair for the Wolverines - it had high stakes, too. The victory guaranteed the Wolverines a share of the Mission League title, the first time that this particular senior class would win a league championship.
After the game, as players and fans milled about the court, still fresh off the game’s nail-biting finish, Hearlihy headed over the broadcast booth for a post-game interview.
“I’m really proud,” Hearlihy said. “Surprised, I’m not. They’re a great group of kids, we talk about how great they are all the time and how important everyone is to our team. All of these girls played a really important role tonight in their first league championship, so I can’t be more proud.”
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-JP Maniscalco strikes out Max Nahmias to secure an undefeated league season on Senior Day.
-Track and Field defeats Loyola for the first time in school history.
-Harrison Listen returns from injury with a clutch go-ahead goal in the playoffs.