St. Al advances to South State|[02/20/07]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kerut leads Lady Flashes to overtime victory, 49-47

This hero thing is starting to become a regular habit for Sarah Kerut – not to mention a whole lot of fun.

Three days after hitting the game-winning shot to give St. Aloysius its first division championship, Kerut scored 29 points to lead the Lady Flashes over South Leake in overtime, 49-47, in a Class 1A South State satellite game Monday night.

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Kerut scored 23 of St. Al’s 33 points in the second half and overtime, including a pair of free throws that tied it at 45 with five seconds left in regulation. In the extra period, Kerut bounced a pass through traffic to Kaitlyn Ellis for the go-ahead basket with 33 seconds to play, then hit a free throw with three seconds left to ice it.

Kerut did all of it while playing through foul trouble. She picked up two in the first half, and played most of the fourth quarter and all of overtime with four.

&#8220We were behind, and I was just like, ‘I don’t want to lose this game,’” Kerut said of her second-half dominance. &#8220And I was on the bench most of the second quarter because of fouls. I was rested and ready to come back.”

The win sends the Lady Flashes (22-8) into the Class 1A South State tournament for the first time in school history. They’ll face Thomastown on Thursday, at 8:30 p.m. at Pisgah.

Jaleesa Sanders had 10 points, seven rebounds and seven steals, and Jade Peavie added nine points for South Leake (20-10), which had several chances to run away with the game. It held St. Al without a point for nearly four minutes in the second quarter, and without a field goal for the first 5 1/2 minutes of the fourth. South Leake was unable to take full advantage, though.

It did have a 12-0 run during St. Al’s second-quarter dry spell to open an 11-point lead, but the Lady Flashes scored the last three points of the period to cut it to 24-16 at halftime. In the fourth, the Lady Wildcats only scored five points while St. Al was struggling.

&#8220We had a lot of plans on using pressure and man-to-man, then the girls got tired,” South Leake coach Cheneese Mabry said.

That allowed the Lady Flashes, on the verge of being blown out in the second quarter, to hang around. And when Kerut got rolling in the third, to take over.

Kerut scored all of St. Al’s points in a 9-2 run to start the second half, and it regained the lead at 30-29 on Elizabeth Mazzanti’s long jumper with 1:17 to play. In all, Kerut scored 12 points in the third quarter to cut South Leake’s lead to one point, 33-32, by the end of the period.

&#8220Sarah is a great leader and the kind of person you want on the floor in those situations,” St. Al coach Kyt Bonner said. &#8220But like we proved tonight, you have to guard all of our girls. We’re a true team.”

South Leake creeped to a 38-34 lead while St. Al was struggling early in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold it. Kerut hit a short jumper to make it 38-36 with 2:30 remaining, then hit a 3-pointer with 1:12 left to put St. Al ahead 40-39.

South Leake hit four free throws down the stretch, including two by Jaleesa Sanders with 20 seconds to go, to take a 43-41 lead. But Kerut was fouled as she was searching for a shot with the clock winding down, and hit both ends of a one-and-one with five seconds left to send it to overtime.

&#8220I just told myself to be calm. If I get tense, I don’t make them,” Kerut said.

The teams went back-and-forth in overtime until Kerut bounced the pass to Ellis for the go-ahead basket and a 48-47 lead with 33 seconds remaining. Bonney Neill stripped South Leake’s Tomekia Lindsey in the lane on the other end of the floor, Kerut grabbed the loose ball and was fouled with three seconds to go.

Kerut split two free throws to make it 49-47, and Lindsey’s desperation heave from 50 feet brushed the front of the net as it fell short. Immediately afterward, St. Al students and fans rushed the court and mobbed its players in a wild victory celebration.

&#8220That’s just so nice to know your school is behind you,” said Kerut, who also had five rebounds and four steals. She also went 10-for-12 at the free throw line and 9-for-15 from the field. &#8220So many people came out and supported us. I didn’t know if they would because of the holiday, and not being in school, and if they even knew about it. That’s just so nice.”