Hailey Clancy wasn’t even thinking about herself.
As the Our Lady of Mercy senior guard stepped to the foul line late in the CHSAA girls basketball championship game against St. Mary’s on Sunday, she looked around at her teammates.
"I was thinking about the girls on the bench and the girls in the game with me," she said. "I was like -- I need to make these free throws so we can go home winning a championship a second time."
Clancy was 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final 17 seconds, as No. 2 OLMA scored 23 of the game’s final 31 points to capture the CHSAA title after a 52-47 win against top-seeded and host St. Mary’s. The Mustangs (12-3) won a CHSAA ‘A’ crown in 2018 when Clancy was a freshman.
"It was really tough at the end," Clancy said. "We were getting nervous."
The Mustangs certainly didn’t play like they were nervous late in the game. Mercy -- which lost to St. Mary’s (13-1) twice during the regular season -- trailed, 39-23, with 2:57 left in the third quarter after a three-pointer from Jaslin Walker (11 points, including 8 in the third quarter).
Taylor (16) and Taryn Barbot combined for 30 of St. Mary’s 47 points.
But OLMA scored six straight points to end the third quarter (down 39-29) and the first nine points of the fourth quarter to inch within 39-38 with 5:30 remaining.
Later, Clancy drilled a three-pointer with 2:42 left to give her club its first lead of the game. It never trailed again. The Mustangs went 9 of 12 from the stripe in the final 1:35 (including a 7-for-8 effort in the last 31.5 seconds).
"We just had to give everything we had left inside of us," Clancy said. "[St. Mary’s is] amazing. They’re great players. We just had to play faster than them and stronger than them and do what we can do."
Meghan Andersen was spectacular with a game-high 19 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 steals. Game MVP Samantha Shea added 10 points, Natalie Pacher had 8 points and 8 rebounds, and Kaitlin Anderson chipped in 7 points and 5 rebounds for the Mustangs, who scored 23 points in the fourth quarter after just 19 in the first half.
"We always said that if we kept believing in what we’re doing," OLMA coach Nick Posner said, "and keep fighting the way we’ve been fighting, that things can turn our way at any time, and the girls really bought in."
For each other.