Eudora Colleen Kivett claims she still does not feel comfortable conducting interviews, but Baldwin High's junior guard will have to get used to them if she keeps making shots like the one she sank Thursday night.
Kivett's off-balance jumper from the free-throw line at the final buzzer gave the Bulldogs a 46-45 win against Spring Hill in the Eudora Invitational's championship game after a miraculous comeback.
"We knew we could do it, we just had to keep playing hard," Kivett said.
Kivett had oodles of optimism for her team, even though the Bulldogs trailed by nine points at halftime and 40-30 heading into the final quarter. Spring Hill stretched its lead to 44-30 after a Josie Gehrt jumpshot with 51/2 minutes left.
But a strange thing happened. The Broncos, who had been scoring buckets in bunches all tournament, suddenly couldn't get anything to drop. Even second-chances from close range were lipping out, and when Baldwin did get rebounds it finally started to take advantage of them.
"I told them it was going to be a close game," Baldwin coach Eric Toot said. "We just had to play good full-court defense and force them to miss some shots for us to have a chance."
Toot let the Bulldogs out with a stifling pressure defense that forced multiple turnovers and easy buckets the other way. Suzie Weege's steal and layup tied the game at 44 with 46.7 seconds left.
Spring Hill tried one more time to work its stalling offense, which it had been doing most of the fourth quarter, to go for one final shot. But another steal gave Baldwin the ball with 26.7 seconds left. That's when the comeback almost crashed. After a full timeout to design a play, the inbounds pass sailed over the Baldwin receiver's head and out of bounds on the far side of the court. Toot and Baldwin stayed calm.
"I figured we'd get one more shot," Toot said. "We had fouls to give, and had done a good job of getting the ball back."
Baldwin did, but trailing by one point after a Spring Hill free throw with 11.1 seconds left.
Somewhere down the line this year, when the Bulldogs need a boost of confidence or just something to smile and reflect upon, Toot will show his team the final possession. After another full timeout to strategize, Baldwin drove the length of the floor, made a few passes and found Kivett for the game-winner.
She stood in the paint, but was quickly knocked off-balance by a swarming Spring Hill defense. At the last second she shot the ball and waited as it rattled on the rim before dropping to finish with 12 points and a first-place trophy.
"I was nervous after I shot it," Kivett said. "Just hoping it would drop."
Afterward Kivett expressed her timidity with talking about the game.
"I'm not very good at this," she said. "I don't know what to do."
On the floor, that was not a problem.