Fairview center Kori Fast said her heart was racing in the final seconds as Northeast launched two three-point attempts that would have tied the game and sent it into overtime.
“I am sure everyone on the court and in the stands that their hearts were racing also,” Fast said.
Northeast misfired on both and when point guard T’oni Edwards was fouled on the rebound with just 1.1 second left, the Lady Vikings’ only hope left was to make a free throw and pray for a miracle.
Edwards made the first free throw but intentionally missed the second attempt. However, the Lady Jackets’ Emily Martens snared the rebound – her seventh of the game – and Fairview defeated Northeast, 38-36, to win Class 2A state championship Saturday at State Fair Arena
“I just can’t believe it,” said Fast, who keyed a Lady Jacket comeback with eight of her game-high 12 points in the fourth quarter. “I am just so happy that all the work that we put in paid off.”
The Lady Jackets closed the game on a 10-1 scoring run as the Lady Vikings didn’t make a basket from the field in the last five minutes. Northeast point guard said the Lady Vikings didn’t play smart basketball at the end.
“We basically got away from what we did to get here,” Edwards said. “I guess everybody just collapsed at the same time.”
Fairview led 18-17 at halftime but Northeast opened the third quarter with nine straight points, fueled by Edwards who had two buckets and two assists.
The Lady Vikings had a seven-point lead, 35-28, when Shayla Williams sank two free throws with 5:22 left in the game. Northeast was seemingly in command when Fairview started getting the ball inside to Fast, the Lady Jackets’ 5-11 senior center.
“Kori did a great job,” said Fairview head coach Mike Barton. “She kept flashing to the basket and we kept finding her. Boy, did she finish strong in the second half.”
Fast’s last basket with 2:46 left cut Northeast’s lead to 35-34 and sent Fairview’s large contingent of orange-clad fans into a frenzy.
“I was just trying to do what I do best,” Fast said. “Post up.”
Fairview made crucial free throws down the stretch to seal the win. KayDee Stafford sank two free throws with 1:26 left that gave Fairview its first lead since halftime, 36-35.
Fast then rebounded a Lanesia Williams’ miss and Martens was fouled by Edwards with only 30 seconds remaining.
Martens hit both free throws for a 38-35 Fairview lead to set up the frantic finish.
Northeast, 26-3, defeated Fairview, 35-32, in the area finals one week ago.
“It hurts,” Edwards said. “But I think this team did good overall to get here.”
For Fairview, 29-2, it was the school’s first state girls’ basketball championship since 1974.
“I don’t what to say,” said Barton, who was carried from the court toward the locker room on the shoulders of Lady Jacket fans. “When you get a chance to win one of these you better take advantage of it. It’s pretty special.”
Staff writer Jenni Carlson contributed to this report.