Adella Randle El tossed in an off-balance 10-footer from the left baseline with five seconds left to lift the State Fair Community College Lady Roadrunners to a 61-59 Region 16 victory over the Mineral Area Community College Lady Cardinals Saturday night at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center.
As the Lady Cardinals’ final, desperation shot clanged off the front of the rim at the other end, the buzzer sounded and the fans breathed not so much a victory celebration, but much more a deep sigh of relief.
“Did you think we were going to win that game,” said Lady Roadrunner Coach Kevin Bucher, poking this writer from behind as he emerged from the post-game locker room.
Another minute on the clock, the Lady Roadrunners might not have come out on top.
The Lady Roadrunners, 15-5 overall and 3-2 in Region XVI, blew a big lead in the first half and the two Region XVI foes played to a 26-26 standoff at the half.
The Lady Roadrunners came out blazing with their full-court press and half-court trap. Eight straight points by guard Mia Wesley opened up a 34-28 State Fair lead two minutes into the second half. SFCC built the lead to 39-30 before Mineral Area scored to get within 39-32.
A steal and layup by Randle El with 14:08 left started off a 21-2 Lady Roadrunner barrage to open up a 53-34 Lady Roadrunner lead with 10 minutes left.
Pressing and trapping, the Lady Roadrunner guards forced turnover after turnover and pumped in a flurry of transition baskets.
Antoinette Taylor and Sannayiahh Johnson scored six points each in that 21-2 run.
Taylor led the Lady Roadrunners with 12 points and Johnson tallied 11.
The game seemed to be well in the bag for State Fair, but someone forgot to tell the Lady Cardinals.
Mineral Area, 14-3 on the season, began chipping away at the Lady Roadrunner lead. All of a sudden, the spring seemed to be gone from the Lady Roadrunner legs.
“I think we got tired,” said Bucher. “I’m not getting enough production from our post players, so, I have to use our guards more. The last few games, I’ve had to play our guards all the time, at least 36 to 38 minutes a game.
“You know I like to press, but when they’re playing that many minutes, they get tired,” Bucher said. “We can’t do it all the time. That’s a pretty good team (Mineral Area) over there and they have good guards like us.”
Over the final 10 minutes, State Fair scored just eight points and the fuel tank appeared to be running on fumes.
“It seemed like the first eight or nine minutes tonight, we played well and then we went into a funk,” said Bucher. “The first eight or nine minutes of the second half, we looked like State Fair and then we went into a hole again. I think we got tired, at least that is my assumption.”
A three-point play by Chelsea Roberts got the Lady Cardinals within 55-45 with eight minutes left.
Bucher kept glancing up at the scoreboard as his team’s lead kept getting smaller and smaller. Bucher used three timeouts in the last 10 minutes to try to stem the tide.
Wesley scored a layup to give SFCC a 57-45 lead.
The Lady Cardinals kept coming, going on an 11-0 run, with eight of those points by Brittany Lawson, to close the gap to 57-56.
Lawson led all scorers with 21 points.
Taylor made two free throws with 58 seconds left, the first points by the Lady Roadrunners in over six minutes but put SFCC back on top 59-58.
Tayla Corrigon scored to put Mineral Area up 59-58, setting up Randle El’s game-winning shot.
Both teams struggled early in the first half, with Mineral Area taking a 7-2 lead. State Fair finally got going and took an 11-9 lead on two charity tosses by Taylor.
The Lady Roadrunners opened up a 26-14 lead but Mineral Area finished the half on a 12-0 run to tie it 26-26 at the half.
Randle El and Julia Torres each scored nine points for State Fair and Wesley had eight. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.