Burrell sinks game-winning shot to lead Lady Spartans

FELTON – Lake Forest’s 42-41 victory over Cape Henlopen Friday night ended in thrilling fashion.

With less than 10 seconds remaining on the game clock, Cape Henlopen took a 41-40 lead, the team’s first lead of the game. Down by one, Lake Forest senior Arika Burrell took the inbound pass and sprinted down to the other side of the court.

Head coach Trenita Shields tried getting a timeout call, but the referees didn’t hear her.

Instead, as time expired, Burrell banked the game-winning shot off the backboard and into the net for a one-point victory. A Cape defender had fouled her on her way up for the lay-up, but the and-one free throw was unnecessary. The referees signaled the end of the game and quickly headed for the side exit without further explanation.

“I just thought ‘we have to win’ so I just went down there and hoped it went in and it did,” Burrell said of her game-winning shot.

Consistent foul trouble throughout the duration of the game nearly cost the Spartans a victory, but Burrell’s leadership and 20 points was enough to survive Cape’s late comeback attempt.

Seven first-half points from Burrell and six first-half points from fellow senior Mya Maddox helped the Spartans get out in front for a 22-14 halftime lead. A consistent third quarter kept the lead at eight, 32-24, heading into the final eight minutes.

Burrell, Maddox and sophomore Nyasia Smith each had four fouls entering the fourth quarter of play. One more foul, and they would be forced to sit the remainder of the game for ‘fouling out.’

Coach Shields took the risk and kept her top two scorers in the game for the entire fourth quarter, and the risk paid off in the end.

Cape gradually made an eight-point comeback, going on a 5-0 run to start the quarter, and then briefly took its first lead with under two minutes to play.

Cape freshman Dania Cannon hit back-to-back lay-ups, including a three-point play following a foul, to make it a three-point game, 40-36.

Twenty-two seconds later, Cape junior Mallory Jones sunk a crucial three-pointer to bring the Spartans’ lead to within one point.

With under 30 seconds remaining on the game clock, Lake Forest possessed the ball and could hold onto it while time expires. That was coach Shields’ plan, at least.

“We had control of the ball, we had 25 seconds on the clock. We had control so we were going to hold the ball until we ran the clock out. No rush. But for some reason, the communication got lost between me and them. She took the shot.”

Rather than running the clock out, Lake Forest attempted a jump-shot with under 20 seconds left. Cape recovered the rebound and pushed the ball down to the other end for a seemingly game-winning shot.

Cape held its first lead, 41-40, and it appeared they had just pulled off a miraculous fourth-quarter comeback. Until the ball was put in Burrell’s hands.

“We got the ball in, pushed it up, speedy Gonzalez over here [pointing to Arika] got the ball up the floor, kept her eyes open, made the lay-up,” Shields said of the game’s closing seconds.

Not only did the game-winning shot put Lake Forest at 9-4 on the season, but it could also boost team morale heading down the stretch.

“It gives me more confidence to take some of those shots,” Burrell said. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so if you feel good about it take it. And that’s what I did.”

With Laurel next up on the schedule for Tuesday, Jan. 24, Lake hopes to run the South division the rest of the way. It will start by taking it one game at a time.

“That’s pretty much our short-term plan. One game at a time,” Burrell said.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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