St. Paul coach Vicky Mahl was quick to admit a blunder down the stretch that proved more than critical.
The Flyers kept a timeout in their pocket at the end of overtime and Danielle Smith's 3-pointer at the buzzer was short, giving Crestview a 47-44 win — and a stranglehold on the Firelands Conference title — on Tuesday inside the Harvey Keller Gymnasium in Norwalk.
"I will take the blame for that," said Mahl of not using a timeout. "I should have called timeout and set up a play. I will take the blame for that. I made a mistake. Whether it cost us the game or not, I don't know. I made the mistake."
Smith's potential game-tying 3-pointer came after Mary Leeper split two free throws for the Cougars with 19.8 seconds left. Anna Lukasko grabbed the rebound for St. Paul (11-3, 7-2) and after tight defense by Crestview, Smith's shot was short and rebounded by Kenedi Goon as time expired.
"We should have called timeout and we didn’t," Mahl said. "Did we get the look we wanted? No."
The Cougars improve to 9-4 overall and 8-0 in FC action. They are two games ahead in the loss column of both St. Paul and Western Reserve (8-4, 6-2) with six conference games remaining.
"I was expecting St. Paul to run Smith off of screens because they have been doing that, and they are pretty successful with that play," Crestview coach Aaron Goon said. "They let her handle the ball, and that honestly was better for us because we are better on the ball defenders than off the ball defenders sometimes."
Tied at 40 after regulation, Goon scored off of an offensive rebound to give Crestview the lead. Each team exchanged empty possessions, then Elly Motter put in her only two points of the night for the Cougars.
Camille Endsley answered for St. Paul, but Leeper scored with 1:10 left for a 46-42 lead. Anna Lukasko scored on a putback for the Flyers before Leeper was fouled in the one-and-one situation.
"We knew St. Paul would come in with a ton of confidence," Goon said. "We had to go out and play our game."
The second half was back-and-forth, with each team seemingly in control on more than one occasion. Smith hit a 3 and Endsley split two free throws as St. Paul took a three-point halftime lead up to 25-18 in just 19 seconds. But, Crestview stormed back with excruciating defense to stump the Flyers into many missed shots and turnovers.
Meanwhile, the Cougars converted better on offense with Goon on the floor. The 6-foot-2 junior sat all but 4:37 of the first half with foul trouble. Goon scored before a score from Kathleen Leeper drew Crestview within 25-22. Consecutive baskets by Autumn Bailey gave the Cougars a 26-25 lead. After a St. Paul timeout, Bailey scored again for a three-point lead.
But, the Flyers had an answered in the unlikeliest of times. Crestview had the ball as time ticked away on the quarter, but Endsley picked a steal and scored. Then, another turnover led to a Smith 3 at the buzzer. Suddenly, after 7:29 of scoreless play, the Flyers had the last five points of the quarter in just 10 seconds and a 30-28 lead.
"That gave us some momentum," Mahl said.
In the fourth quarter, Morgan Baxter grabbed an offensive rebound and seemingly mid-rebound, passed to Megan Hammersmith for a layup and score. Endsley added a triple off of an out-of-bounds play and St. Paul had a 35-28 lead.
"We had to come out and play hard, whether we were up or down," Mahl said. "You had to win the half. We have to finish in some places that we did not finish tonight."
The margin was 37-30 when Crestview's defense again sank in. Back-to-back scores by Bailey drew the Cougars within three points. Kathleen Leeper made two free throws to slice the lead to 37-36, but St. Paul played keep away to drain the clock.
Smith split two free throws off of a technical foul and Lukasko added two makes. Trailing 40-36 with less than a minute left, Mary Leeper scored and was fouled for Crestview. She missed the free throw, but Goon was there for the putback to tie the game. St. Paul committed one of its 14 turnovers with 4.4 seconds left, but Crestview committed a turnover as well at a time where the Cougars had the chance to win.
"That last defensive stop to get it to overtime was probably the biggest thing that gave our girls so much confidence," Goon said. "We lost our heads a little bit, but when it came down to it, we executed and did the things we needed to do. When we play like that, we are a really good team."
Crestview jumped out to a 7-2 lead, but Goon was relegated to the bench with 3:23 left in the first quarter, negating the size down low for the Cougars.
Crestview maintained a 15-10 lead into the second quarter before St. Paul really took advantage of Goon being on the bench. Endsley scored before Hammersmith cut the lead to one on a putback.
The Flyers took their first lead later when Lukasko scored after one of Crestview's 20 turnovers. A shot by Baxter off of an assist by Smith gave St. Paul a 21-18 lead at halftime.
"I told our girls at halftime that we did not play well and we were only down three points," Goon said. "We only had one starter out there in the second quarter at one point."
Bailey (eight rebounds) paced Crestview with 15 points while Mary Leeper scored 12 points. Goon tallied six points, but grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
"You try to box Kenedi out, but you just don’t know what officials are going to call," Mahl said. "You tell your kids to get in front of her and make contact with her and she still comes over the back. It is what it is. I am one of those coaches that tell my kids that officials are not going to win or lose a game for you. You have to play."
Endlsey's 12 points topped St. Paul while Smith, the FC's leading scorer, added 11 points. Lukasko contributed nine points and a team-high seven rebounds.
CRESTVIEW (9-4, 8-0)
Kathleen Leeper 2-2—6, Mary Leeper 5-2—12, Elly Motter 1-0—2, Kenedi Goon 3-0—6, Autumn Bailey 7-1—15, Anna McFarland 3-0—6. TOTALS 21-5—47.
ST. PAUL (11-3, 7-2)
Morgan Baxter 2-0—4, Anna Lukasko 3-3—9, Megan Hammersmith 4-0—8, Camille Endsley 5-1—12, Danielle Smith 4-1—11. TOTALS 18-5—44.
Crestview 13 5 10 12 7 — 47
St. Paul 10 11 9 10 4 — 44
3-point FGs: (StP) Smith 2, Endsley.