Warriors go fourth, win

4th-quarter rally lifts Central past 'Dogs

Tyler Hays shoots over the Palisade defense to score two of her 20 points Tuesday night in the Warriors’ 
54-52 comeback victory. Central trailed by 11 with six minutes left in the game, but rallied behind Hays’ defense and the offense generated off that defense.

Paused for a moment on the rim, the basketball spun furiously, as though willing itself through the net.

“I was so nervous,” said Central High School’s Taryn Smith, who had driven for the final shot with three seconds remaining Tuesday night at Palisade, then banked the ball for a low-angle shot. “If it didn’t go in, I probably would have cried.”

No tissue needed. Smith made the buzzer beater. Central had overcome an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to win 
54-52 at Palisade, and much like the buzzer-beater that twisted on the rim like a figure skater whipping revolutions, so was Central guard Tyler Hays late in the fourth quarter. The sophomore was adept at running the full-court press in circles and stealing passes, chasing and blocking shots, sometimes hitting jumpers, sometimes missing them, drawing three fouls, yet injecting Central (4-8) with vigor.

Hays finished with 20 points, including three 3-pointers.

Jenna Brown led Palisade with 13 points.

“When I get those fouls I don’t think I deserve,” Hays said, “it makes me mad, which makes me want to play even harder, which causes me to have another foul, which makes me play even harder.”

Like a teenager growing several inches over the summer, an inexperienced player sometimes changes so much in so little time that the difference is something to be measured. For Hays, the spurt happened in one game, if not in the final few minutes.

“She made some huge strides toward being a great point guard,” Central coach Mary Doane said. “She’s good now, but I really think she made some huge strides tonight.”

So did the home team’s point guard. Palisade’s Casey Brown (11 points) ended the third quarter with a layup off a give-and-go with Aspen Guray, a pump-fake, one-dribble jump shot, and finally and steal of an inbounds pass and a layup. Brown’s 6-0 run put Palisade ahead, 38-30.

Soon, with six minutes left in the game, Palisade (3-5) led 45-34.

Hays tried to describe the ensuring surge. “I think being down made us more pumped up, and made us play even harder,” she said.

Early in the game, the teams exchanged 3-pointers. Ashlyn Brown had two in the first half for Palisade, finishing with three 3s and 11 points. Hays began finding her shot as well thanks to the inside threat of D’Kota Brodie, who had 13 points. Senior Jordan Eller had nine points for the Warriors, including a 3. Yet in the final seconds, it was Smith who found herself atop the key with the ball.

“I caught it and everybody was yelling at me,” Smith said.

Central had overloaded the left side of the court. The middle was like an empty garage.

“I was like, ‘Well, what are they yelling at me for?’ ” Smith said. “So I just went to the middle.”

In doing so, she stamped the completion of an 11-point rally.

“That win meant a lot,” Hays said.

“So much,” Smith added.


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