As teammates begged her to take part in a postgame news conference, North Kansas City freshman Selena Salas instead avoided the microphone.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
“Too much pressure,” she mumbled shyly. “That’s not for me.”
Actually, only moments earlier, Salas proved she thrives under pressure.
In what she later called the biggest play of her basketball career, Salas banked in a 26-foot three-pointer at the buzzer, lifting North Kansas City to a 45-44 win over Staley in the inaugural Time Warner Cable Showcase at the Sprint Center.
Shortly thereafter, Salas found herself at the bottom of a pile of a North Kansas City players who celebrated at halfcourt. The scene highlighted a Martin Luther King Day that included the first ever high school basketball games to be played at the Sprint Center.
“That’s probably one of the craziest finishes I’ve ever seen,” North Kansas City coach Jeff Lacy said.
When the shot fell, no one was happier than Hornets leading scorer Lexus Bradley, who missed a layup with eight seconds remaining that would have tied the game.
Of course, the Hornets — who stayed unbeaten in the Suburban White Conference at 6-0 — never would have been in the game without Bradley, who cruised to a game-high 20 points despite Staley rearranging its defense around stopping her.
After Bradley’s missed layup, Staley junior Monique Townson saw the front end of a one-and-one free throw rattle out of the rim. On the ensuing North Kansas City possession, Salas dribbled the ball across the halfcourt line, took a quick glance at the clock and fired from the wing.
For the record, she didn’t call glass. But it still counts.
“I looked up and saw less than one second, so I just let it go,” Salas said. “I felt like it was going to go in. It was crazy.”
A fitting end to a game that included six lead changes. No team led by more than five points.
That equaled a drastic change from the first meeting, in which North Kansas City, 12-3, ran away with a 31-point win.
This time, Staley, 8-7, improved its defensive effort and made six threes — including three from its lone senior, Marrisa Preston, who had 11 points — to keep it competitive.
Townson led the Falcons with 14.
“It was such a good battle — I’m sure it was fun to watch,” Staley coach Sherry Butts said. “Unfortunately for us, we came out on the wrong end, but what a great game.”
Harmon boys 62, Hogan Prep 61
When he stepped to the free-throw line with 4.5 seconds remaining in a tie game, Harmon senior Hugh Smith said he had only thought.
“Gotta knock down the first one,” he told himself.
Smith took his own advice, sinking a free throw for the game-winning point in Harmon’s comeback victory. Good thing, too, because his second attempted bounced off the rim.
Harmon, playing its fourth game in six days, trailed by seven heading into the fourth quarter.
“We’re finally finding out identity as a team, and we’re playing with confidence,” Harmon coach Dave Gonzales said.
Hogan Prep senior Antoine Stanley scored a game-high 27 points, but his potential game-winning three-pointer clanked off the back iron as the buzzer sounded.
Northeast boys 69, East 67, OT
Northeast coach Phil Morgan told his players to prepare for a dogfight Monday afternoon.
Cornell Duley was ready. Northeast’s top scorer poured in 30 points in an overtime victory.
“It was a big win,” Duley said. “That’s our rival, so this was one we had to win.”
Northeast led by nine in the first half, but East fought back for a six-point lead in the third quarter behind a 16-point game from Kevin Coulter.
Northeast senior Abdrahmn Sheikh tied the game with 10 seconds left in regulation, sending it to a four-minute overtime period.
St. Teresa’s Academy girls 58, Lincoln Prep 27
St. Teresa’s opened the game on a 17-0 run and led by 24 after the first quarter, breezing past an overmatched Lincoln Prep team.
Nine players scored for the Stars, 5-12, who played a rotation that featured five freshmen and just two seniors.
Senior Maggie Jo Rellihan scored 10 points to lead the Stars.
“It’s definitely different this year with a new group, but (the young players) have adjusted well,” Rellihan said. “It’s really fun playing with them because they get into it.”
Annie Dewberry had 19 in the loss for Lincoln Prep.