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Imblerís Stephanie McGilvray avoids having the ball stolen away by Unionís Carsyn Roberts in the championship of the Cove Booster Tournament Saturday. BRAD MOSHER - The Observer
COVE — Imbler needed to overcome a rough start and a large lead by rival Union Saturday to claim the Cove Boosters basketball tournament crown, 30-28.
The biggest obstacle for the Lady Panthers was Union’s Keesha Sarman.
Sarman scored seven of the Lady Cat’s 11 first-quarter points as Union dominated Imbler early in the game.
That was five more points than the entire Imbler team in the first period.
Imbler scored first in the first quarter when Emma Bowers hit a jump shot less than a minute into the game.
The only scoring for the remaining seven minutes was by the Lady Cats — with Sarman leading the way. Sarman, who finished the two-game tourney with a total of 33 points, hawkishly intercepted passes and stole the ball to help Union break away.
Her basket with 5:12 left tied the score at 2-all, then added a free throw less than two minutes later to give the Lady Cats their first lead of the game at 3-2.
Sarman struck again with just over two minutes left, helping boost the Union lead to 7-2.
Then, she was back again using a fast break to make the lead 9-2 with 48 seconds left. She then grabbed an offensive rebound under the basket and sank one more shot with one second left.
Down 11-2, Imbler came back slightly in the second quarter by outscoring Union by a 7-4 margin that cut the halftime to six points (15-9).
In the third quarter, Ally Fullerton led the Lady Panthers back with a six-point run of her own. Imbler scored 11 points in the period and closed the gap by another three points on the scoreboard to 23-20.
With just 1:45 left in the half, Malia Mills hit a jumper to cut Union’s lead to 21-18. Fullerton’s shot with 1:27 on the clock made it a one-point game (21-20). Union’s Kaci Langford gave the Lady Cats another three-point cushion when she scored the half’s final points with 1:08 left.
It was in the final quarter that Imbler came back to take the lead again — for the first time since the opening minutes of the game.
Imbler’s scoring charge was spread between six players, with Fullerton’s four points being the top individual effort.
In the final period, Stephanie McGilvray hit a free throw to cut Union’s lead to 23-21. Then Jacey Teeter added a basket with 6:32 left to tie the score for the first time since the first quarter.
Fullerton’s basket with 5:17 on the clock gave Imbler the lead for just the second time in the game.
But Dani Sturm tied the game again when she stole the ball and broke away for a layup with 4:50 left.
Sturm struck again when she sank a free throw with 4:10 left after she was fouled getting her own rebound.
Union’s 26-25 lead lasted only about 30 seconds — until Danika McIntosh hit a free throw that tied the score again.
Mills came up with was fouled after running the length of the court, but she sank one of her two attempts. It was the fifth foul for Sturm, while the point gave Imbler a 27-26 lead.
Union’s Sarah Good hit a shot with 1:58 left, as the Lady Cats took a 28-27 lead.
Fullerton hit her final points of the game with less than 90 seconds left, putting Imbler in the lead (29-28).
Union struggled to score in the sinal seconds, calling a time out with 34 seconds left and finally fouling Imbler’s Emma Bowers with 10 seconds left.
Bowers hit one of her two shots, giving Imbler a 30-28 lead.
Fullerton led Imbler with 12 points, while McIntosh added five.
Jessica McDaniel, Teeter, Mills and Bowers each scored three points. McGilvray added one point.
For Union, Sturm led the scoring with 13, while Sarman had nine. The Lady Cats also picked up four points from Good and two from Langford.
According to Imbler coach Barry Bowers, the play of Sarman in the first period had a dramatic impact on the game.
“Our girls fought very hard. We were tired and they just kept fighting and fighting and made pays when we had to make them.
“So, I’m proud of the girls,” Bowers said.