Elation, relief and disbelief all rolled into one.
Clare Calabro had never hit a buzzer-beater in her life. So when she squared to the basket from the right wing about five feet behind the three-point line and banked in the game-winner, she was mauled by teammates and didn’t know what to do.
“It just released from my hands, and when it went in, I didn’t even know how to feel from there,” said Calabro, whose 12 points led the Kellenberg girls basketball team to a dramatic 48-47 win over host Our Lady of Mercy in CHSAA on Friday night.
Calabro inbounded the ball from inside halfcourt with two seconds left on the clock to Alyssa Boll, who was met high by a defender. With nobody stepping in to guard Calabro, Boll quickly dished back to the 5-8 junior, who took advantage of the open look.
Then she was overcome by myriad emotions.
The game-winner capped what was an impressive comeback for the Firebirds, who trailed 40-33 with 5:02 to play in the fourth quarter.
Senior Morgan Staab hit consecutive layups with the second coming with 1:51 remaining, cutting the OLMA (1-1) advantage to 42-39. But she fouled out 44 seconds later, leaving Kellenberg without its top option.
“I always try to play through [the foul calls],” Staab said. “I was getting frustrated so some of them were frustration fouls, but it happens.”
Her teammates stepped up in her stead. Jessie Brower converted a lay-in with 14.9 seconds remaining before Micela Genua netted consecutive free-throws for OLMA less than a second later.
Brianna Gomez scored in the paint with 7.3 left and Lauren Hammersley answered for the Mustangs with two free throws with 6.8 left, pushing OLMA’s advantage to 47-43. Hammersley had a game-high 26.
Kellenberg’s players were unflappable in the waning seconds. Trailing by four, Boll hit a tough layup with 2.4 seconds left. After forcing a turnover, Kellenberg (3-1) got the ball back with enough time for Calabro to do something she never had before.
Kellenberg coach Matthew Kirk called Calabro a pass-first guard and an unselfish player. But she had no choice but to shoot with the clock approaching zero.
The result? Pandemonium.