Sundance’s Teila McInerney stepped to the free throw line with 4.8 seconds remaining and the Bulldogs and Wyoming Indian tied at 35-all Saturday at the Casper Events Center.
With the Wyoming State High School Class 2A Girls State Basketball Championship on the line, the senior took a deep breath, released the ball, and missed. With another chance to lift the Bulldogs to their first state basketball title, McInerney’s second shot bounced off the back iron.
Wyoming Indian failed to get a shot off before the buzzer and the game headed to overtime.
“Our other senior, Molly O’Connor, just looked at me and said, ‘I believe in you,’” McInerney said. “And my coach basically told me the same thing.”
Buoyed by their reassurance, McInerney scored four of her 23 points in the extra session, including 2 of 4 free throws, to give Sundance its long-awaited championship, 44-39.
“This is going to take some time to sink in,” McInerney said as she wiped away tears with her No. 11 jersey. “It’s just an amazing feeling ... there’s a sense of euphoria.”
The Bulldogs (24-3) fell behind 7-1 before settling down and slowing down the Chiefs’ fast-break attack. Wyoming Indian junior Alexandria Trosper knocked down a 3-pointer and scored on a drive to give the Chiefs an 18-12 lead, but Sundance freshman Sherry Negaard hit a baseline jumper just before the half ended to cut the lead to 19-18.
Wyoming Indian maintained its advantage until midway through the fourth quarter when McInerney went on a personal 7-0 run to give the Bulldogs a 35-32 lead.
Both teams then traded missed free throws — they combined to make just 23 of 47 from the charity stripe — before figuring things out in overtime. Trosper made two from the line to give Wyoming Indian a one-point lead, but Sundance freshman Aftyn Marchant got free for a layup and sophomore Laney Dungey made two free throws with 1:04 on the clock for a 43-39 advantage.
“We’ve got two main scorers in the McInerneys (Teila and Rigan, Teila’s sophomore sister) and a bunch of role players,” Sundance head coach Sheryl O’Connor said. “But those kids know what they have to do and we wouldn’t have won this without them.”
Following a Wyoming Indian turnover, McInerney made it a two-possession game when she made 1 of 2 from the line.
The state championship is the second this school year for Sundance, which defeated three-time defending state champ Wright to win the state volleyball title in the fall.
“It’s been a pretty unbelievable year,” McInerney said before being mobbed by Sundance supporters.