SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- Maybe it's fitting that on Senior Night at Sissonville, Tolsia's experience proved to be the difference.
The young Indians led almost throughout and controlled the tempo of the game, but Rebels junior Savannah Winnett bailed her team out with three clutch free throws and a buzzer-beating put-back as Tolsia defeated Class AA No. 10 Sissonville 45-43 in a thriller on Monday night.
The final tally was Tolsia's first lead since holding a 12-10 cushion at the end of the first quarter, and the win clinched the Cardinal Conference championship for the Rebels.
Sissonville went on a 13-2 run throughout the second quarter and was in control right up to the waning minutes, but the Indians, who start three freshmen and a sophomore, made one too many costly mistakes late.
Indians coach Rich Skeen admitted as much after the game.
"You saw a little bit of veteran leadership on [Tolsia's] part coming through," Skeen said. "We just turned the ball over way, way too many times in the fourth quarter. Freshmen - we live and die with them. But just way too many turnovers and that's what cost us - and some ill-advised shots we shouldn't have taken."
Ryan Henry knocked down a jumper to stretch Sissonville's lead to 42-37 late in the fourth quarter but Tolsia's Jordan Presley answered with a hoop of her own.
With a little over a minute remaining, Winnett was fouled on a 3-point attempt. She stroked the first and then the second two after a Sissonville timeout to tie the game at 42.
"I was literally about to puke," Winnett said of her nerves. "I knew if I didn't make those three we had to get a quick steal and come back. I was pretty nervous - I was shaking, bad."
Sissonville then dribbled down most of the final minute until Karli Pinkerton made a move toward the hoop and was fouled with 8.7 seconds left.
After making the second of two free throws, Presley raced down the floor and was fouled before taking a shot with 3.4 seconds left, setting up a 1-and-1.
She made the first and missed the second, causing a chaotic scrum under the hoop where Tolsia's Jamie Maynard pulled down a rebound and missed a shot. But Winnett grabbed the final board and flung another put-back opportunity toward the rim.