BARLOW – First, there was the four-point deficit with one minute, 17 seconds left in regulation. Then, there was the five-point deficit with 46.1 seconds to go in the fourth period.
Finally, there was the four-point deficit with 1:33 left in overtime.
In the end, Marshall County’s Lady Marshals overcame all that, and a 32-point effort by Ballard Memorial senior guard Brandi Jones, to post a 63-61 victory in overtime at Ballard’s Green Palace Tuesday night.
The win put a blemish on Senior Night for Jones and four other Lady Bomber veterans, but it was an exquisite game that was every bit as close and dramatic as the final score suggests.
Two free throws by a Lady Marshal senior, Mariah McKenty, decided it with 6.3 ticks left.
That came about 10 seconds of game time after Taylor Meadows hit the first of two free throws to tie it at 61-61.
Ballard coach Daryl Dixon called time out after Meadows’ first free throw, and Meadows’ second shot bounced off the rim.
But McKenty rebounded the miss, drove inside the Ballard defense, put up a challenged shot that missed, rebounded again and shot again, this time drawing a foul on Ballard senior Mallie Myers.
After McKenty hit the last two free throws of the game, Ballard was unable to answer.
Meadows and McKenty led the Lady Marshals with 27 and 20 points, respectively.
After Ballard built a 50-45 lead inside the final minute, McKenty hit two free throws to close the gap to 50-47 at the 32.9 mark. Then Meadows stole the ball and passed to McKenty, who pulled up on a drive into the lane and hit a short jumper to make it 50-49 with 24 seconds left.
After a Ballard time-out, Jones drew a foul on Meadows and hit the front end of a one-and-one to make it 61-59. She missed the second shot, though – the only one of 17 free throws that she did not make – and Meadows drove the length of the court and hit a shot that knotted it at 51-all.
Marshall County did not allow the Lady Bombers an opportunity to get a good shot, with Hailey Houston’s long heave drawing nothing but air.
In the extra period, Meadows put Marshall County on top 53-51, but Ballard responded with a basket by Myers and two free throws by Jones to regain the lead.
Marshall’s Alex Brown tied the score with a strong move inside and had a chance to put the Lady Marshals ahead with a free throw, but missed it.
Then Jones calmly drained a long three-pointer and Myers added one of two free throws to give Ballard a 59-55 edge with just over a minute-and-a-half left.
Meadows hit a three to make it 59-58, but the quick Jones made it 61-58 with a basket seconds later.
After the Lady Marshals failed to answer, Ballard had the ball and a three-point lead as the clock ticked inside 30 seconds. But the Lady Bombers had trouble with Marshall County’s full-court press on an in-bounds play from the left corner.
Myers’ pass went awry and Marshall sophomore Melissa Ross intercepted and was fouled. She calmly sank the two free throws to make it 61-60 with 29.3 left to play.
Jones drove through the defense on the ensuing possession, but her layup missed and Marshall rebounded, setting up the game-decided sequence of plays by Meadows and McKenty.
The Lady Marshals end regular-season play with a four-game winning streak, including eight wins in their last 10 games, and a 22-8 record.
Ballard finished their regular season at Calloway County Thursday night, falling 52-48 and closing with a 15-14 record.
Marshall 15 25 34 51 63
Ballard 15 25 38 51 61
MARSHALL CO.: Bailey Greer 2, Taylor Meadows 27, Mariah McKenty 20, Toni Fehrenbacher, Alex Brown 8, Melissa Ross 2, Amanda Bailey, Rachael Reed 2, Caitlyn York, Alyssa Barnard 2
BALLARD MEM.: Shelby Rollings 3, Lakyn Dunagin 5, Abbi Denton, Mallie Myers 16, Brandi Jones 32, Mackenzie Blackford, Natalie Lawrence 3, Hailey Houston 2