The final buzzer sounded, and Tam students started pouring onto the court excitedly to join their team in a mosh pit at center court. They had just won their second consecutive MCAL championship.
After Tam’s thrilling 39-36 victory on Saturday, Redwood’s reaction was much more solemn as their outstanding season came to a disappointing end.
Tam’s senior guard, Jaiana Harris, a former Redwood player, said that the victory was more special to her because it came against her former team.
“It was kind of personal. I came in with a chip on my shoulder because they handed us our first loss of the season and I knew they were going to want to end their season on a championship,” Harris said. “It feels good to beat them here when it matters most.”
Redwood’s loss can be attributed to many turnovers and its ultimate inability to stop the Hawks’ high-octane offense, but by the end of the game, there was no doubt that Tam was the superior team Saturday night.
The first quarter was an offensive struggle, with both teams scoring only 10 points apiece. The Giants were only 4-for-11 from the floor while the Hawks were 3-for-12.
However, Harris was able to lead the Hawks on a run to end the first half, leaving them with a seven-point lead through the third quarter.
Despite trailing, the Giants were not willing to let their storybook season come to a quiet end. Sophomore forward Jenny Walker led the Giants back into the game with her scoring and rebounding as well as a late game block to keep the Giants’ hopes alive. Down three with seconds remaining, senior guard Nicki Yang weaved upcourt and tried to send the game to overtime with a three-point attempt at the buzzer, but the ball bounced off the rim.
Walker said that although the coaches’ and captains’ speeches during the final timeout contributed to a good fourth quarter effort, the entire season itself was inspiring.
“This year was special; we all kind of just looked at each other and something sparked. I wish we could have done that in the first quarter,” Walker said. “I think that was our problem. Something didn’t hit us until the fourth quarter and it’s really unfortunate that it happened in this game. If we had our fourth quarter intensity for the entire game, we would be MCAL champions.”
Head coach Diane Peterson said that she repeatedly told her team to focus on the possession at hand.
“We just kept them locked in on every possession. We didn’t want them looking ahead to future ones,” Peterson said. “They knew they couldn’t trade baskets with [Tam]; if we scored, we needed a stop to chip away at the lead.”
Despite the tough loss, Peterson reiterated that the Giants’ season is far from over.
“We still have NCS and we still have a great opportunity to get into Nor-Cals. [The seniors] still have a legacy to make,” Peterson said.
The Giants kick off their NCS run at home against Windsor on Tuesday. Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m.