RINGGOLD —Dan River seniors Alexis Crews and Savannah Bowles stepped out onto the court Friday night with one goal in mind: defeat Altavista and in the process, win their final game in front of a raucous Dan River home crowd.
That’s exactly what Bowles and Crews did as junior Takiya Smith’s free throws in the waning seconds lifted Dan River to a thrilling 40-38 victory over Altavista in Dogwood District action.
With the game tied at 38-all with 17 seconds remaining, Smith pulled down a defensive rebound and was fouled in the process, sending her to the free-throw line for two shots. Smith knocked down both of her freebies, giving the Wildcats a 40-38 edge.
Altavista got the ball down the court for one last attempt, but the potential game-winning shot fell short, sending Bowles, Crews and the rest of the Wildcats onto the court in celebration.
It was a fitting finish for a game full of dramatics.
Altavista erased a double-digit deficit heading into the final period thanks to junior Dana Donigan’s layup on a steal from senior Charlotte Mabry with 3:13 left in regulation. Crews answered back with a pair of free throws on Dan River’s next possession to give the Wildcats a 33-32 lead and Smith’s three-point (layup, and-1 attempt) after a Wildcats defensive stop gave them a 36-32 lead with just over two minutes left.
The Colonels answered back, however, with a 6-2 run thanks to 3-pointers from Mabry and junior Casey Allen that allowed them to tie the game at 38-all with 17 ticks on the clock.
Crews finished with 10 points for Dan River while Bowles added six. Smith led the Wildcats with 15 points.
Mabry led all scorers with 21 points.
Dan River’s defense was the feature in the second frame as the Wildcats kept the Colonels off the board for nearly seven minutes. Altavista didn’t get its first points of the frame until Mabry’s jumper at the 1:35 mark. The Wildcats offense responded in kind, building their lead to as many as eight on Smith’s layup with 2:32 left in the half. Five of Dan River’s points over the stretch came courtesy of Farmer’s 4-for-4 performance at the free-throw line.
Mabry’s jumper pulled Altavista within six, 13-7, with just under two minutes remaining, but Bowles pushed Dan River’s lead back to eight with her jumper on the Wildcats’ following possession. A 3-pointer from Allen pulled the Colonels within five with under a minute remaining but a Bowles jumper with 35 seconds remaining gave Dan River a 17-10 lead heading into the break.
Bowles was the Wildcats swing player in the opening half, dropping six of Dan River’s 17 first-half points. Farmer tied her mark with six as well while Smith added four.