This time of year the name of the game is to survive and advance, and that's just what St. Albans did Monday night - if only by the skin of its teeth.
Senior guard Sarah Reynolds knocked down a game-tying 3-pointer just ahead of the buzzer in regulation, then gave the Red Dragons their only lead of the game in overtime en route to eking out a 41-38 win in the opener of the Class AAA Region 4 Section 1 tournament.
A crowd of about 100 attended the cross-river rivalry postseason matchup at the Tex McCue Williams Gymnasium at St. Albans High School. SA (7-16), which snapped a seven-game losing streak, will play at top-seeded South Charleston at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinals. The winner advances to Friday's section championship game.
Reynolds took a long pass down court, stepped behind the 3-point line and drilled only her second made shot with seven-tenths of a second left. Nitro didn't have a chance to inbound the ball as the buzzer sounded shortly after.
The 5-foot-4 Reynolds had missed her previous 13 shots stretching back to the first quarter before sending the game into the four-minute extra period.
"I was just glad I could knock one down finally,'' said Reynolds, who finished with 10 points on 3-of-18 shooting and a 2-of-12 performance on 3s. "It was hard because I had to take a step back, but I knocked it down because I had confidence.''
Reynolds then sank a 12-foot baseline jumper 10 seconds into OT to give SA its first lead at 35-33. The drama wasn't done as freshman guard Savannah Shamblin converted a short jump shot in the lane to pull Nitro within 39-38 with 18.2 seconds remaining.
Reynolds answered by hitting two foul shots to set the final score with 14.4 seconds to go. Nitro had one last chance as junior guard Madison Godbey fired up a 3 and went stumbling off to the side, but no foul was called as time expired.
"I was proud of Sarah,'' said SA coach Scott James. "Sarah didn't shoot the ball very well, but when the game was on the line she stepped back and hit a big 3 to send it to overtime.
"You've got to give the credit to the Nitro girls. They wanted to win the game worse than we did. I was proud of [our girls] for hanging in there and the fight they had in the fourth quarter.''