ORRICK – Abby Nail’s patience helped the Bearcats hold off Sweet Springs/Malta Bend on Tuesday in varsity girls basketball action.
With the Bearcats leading 39-37, Nail stole an inbounds pass and drove to the hoop to attempt a layup but was fouled while shooting. She then sank one of two free throws with 7.7 seconds left for the last of her eight points. Her free throw also provided the final point of Orrick’s 40-37 I-70 Conference and Senior Night win.
Nail used a familiar strategy to get the steal.
“Usually, I do that … once a game,” she said. “I always wait back and see if it’s close, and I find the point guard. … (My teammates) usually pressure the ball really well, so I find the point guard and just go up.”
The ball also ended up in Nail’s hands after a Sweet Springs/Malta Bend attempt at a tie to force overtime. Nail held the ball to run out the clock.
“I don’t know what happened there,” Nail said. “I just turned around and got it.”
Nail’s clutch plays capped a nail-biter that was 7-7 after one quarter and 13-13 at halftime. The Bearcats threatened to pull away during the third quarter, leading by as many as five, 24-19. But they held a 26-25 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Bearcats led by six, 39-33, with less than 2 minutes left in the final quarter. The Greyhounds produced a two-point bucket with 1:41 remaining and a three-pointer with 1:14 left to set the stage for Nail’s steal and layup.
Honored with teammates Reannon Hill and Mara Inks during a Senior Night ceremony afterward, Nail considered the victory a “thank-you” to Orrick residents.
“This community has always been such a great support system,” she said.
Junior Emma Wilson was pleased she and her fellow Bearcats could give Hill, Nail and Inks a win.
“They’re leaving, so we’re not going to have them back,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of sad. But, hey, we came out with the ‘dub’.”
Inks led the team with 11 points. Wilson added 10.
Junior Michaela Malter led all scorers with 13 points and was the lone Greyhound in double figures. Other Sweet Springs/Malta Bend contributors included Lila Adams and Jaelyn Winfrey with eight apiece.
It was the second straight home victory for the Bearcats. The team has won four of their last six overall. On Feb. 7, they defeated Lone Jack 43-30. Nail led the way with 19 points and was the lone Bearcat in double figures.
Becca Roth led Lone Jack with 12 points. Carol Quick also reached double figures with 10.
The Bearcats (9-12 overall, 3-2 conference) will continue conference play Friday, when they travel to face Wellington-Napoleon (20-0, 5-0).
“It’s going to be a tough challenge,” Orrick coach Bryan O’Dell said. “They’re awful good, so we’ll have to be at our best.”
Senior Night is generally reserved for a team’s final home game of the season. After Wellington-Napoleon, however, the Bearcats are slated to play once more on their home floor this season. Their non-conference home meeting with Tina-Avalon was rescheduled from Jan. 24 to Feb. 17 because of a winter storm.
The Bearcats are scheduled to close their regular season Feb. 18 at Concordia, then begin postseason play Feb. 22 against Hardin-Central.