McMillin&8217;s 3-pointer helps Lady Wolves rally past Epps

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

MONTEREY &8212; It&8217;s sort of a running joke with Monterey&8217;s Lady Wolves that Crystal McMillin can have the ugliest release from behind the 3-point line and make the shot.

They were still laughing after Friday night&8217;s District 3-B opener against Epps, but this time they weren&8217;t laughing at her.

They were laughing with her.

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That&8217;s because McMillin fired off a 3-pointer that wasn&8217;t something you&8217;d film and show youngsters at a basketball clinic with six seconds left and the Lady Wolves down by two. And just like in practice, it went in to give her team a 46-45 win over the Lady Panthers after being down 13 points in the fourth quarter.

&8220;I make shots like that in practice, but I&8217;d never thought I&8217;d never do that in a ball game,&8221; McMillin said. &8220;They&8217;re way better than they were last year. Since we were behind, we did pretty good coming back. We&8217;re good about playing as a team.&8221;

McMillin hit nothing but net on the shot, her second of the quarter after doing the same on the first one. It caused the crowd in the tiny Monterey gym to explode, but Epps still had a chance to win it and called a timeout with 3.6 seconds left.

The Lady Panthers got a shot off &8212; not from 6-2 post players Jacqueline McDowell, who had 26 points, but instead from Jasmine Marshall &8212; that banked off the backboard as time expired.

&8220;We were all grinting our teeth, wishing it would go in,&8221; junior Melissa Simpson said. &8220;We were just trying to get a good shot far out or just under the goal. Crystal got it, she had the open shot and it worked. They were up a lot, and we pulled it together.&8221;

McMillin may not have been the logical choice for the bucket at the end since the Lady Wolves (1-0, 17-6) struggled at times in the halfcourt against Epps&8217; 2-3 zone defense. And the second one was a little more defended &8212; the first one didn&8217;t get a lick of defense from Epps, and the shot put capped off Monterey&8217;s 17-2 run to get back in the game.

McDowell even answered that first one with two buckets for a 43-41 lead with 1:12 left, but Simpson and Kassie Kennedy each hit a free throw to tie the game up at 43 with 44 seconds left.

McDowell hit another bucket with 14 seconds left to give Epps the lead before McMillin hit the shot. And it all came without steady senior Brittany Woodruff, who went down with a knee injury when Epps had that 13-point lead.

&8220;When it left, I knew it was on line,&8221; Monterey head coach Cary Shively said. &8220;It was just whether it was too long or too short. I knew it was on line because I was right there with her (in front of the bench). We&8217;ve got a couple who come off the bench when they&8217;re on they can light it up from the 3-point line. She did a really good job tonight, I know that.&8221;

The shot was unconventional for a team that clawed its way back into the game thanks to a full-court press. The Lady Panthers (0-1, 11-12) built up a 37-24 lead just under 2

minutes into the fourth quarter thanks to a 7-0 run following a Madison Simpson 3-pointer to the quarter.

Epps tried to keep things in a half-court game, but Monterey used its press to change that. Madison Simpson and Lakasha Finley drained buckets 13 seconds apart to start the run, and Melissa Simpson drove baseline in front of McDowell for a bucket at the 3:11 mark to trim it to 37-34.

Finley hit two free throws and another bucket that trimmed the lead to 39-38 with 2:25 left before McMillin hit her first 3-pointer.

&8220;We got several steals at the end,&8221; Melissa Simpson said. &8220;That helped out a lot. We were thinking we could (do that). It worked really well for us.&8221;

It worked earlier in the game when the Lady Wolves needed buckets to stay in it. Epps took a 20-15 lead at the start of the third quarter, but Monterey got six points in 12 seconds thanks to steals in the press to take a 21-20 lead.

&8220;We made crucial errors the whole game,&8221; Epps head coach Janie Cagle said. &8220;It really cost us. We beat the press when we put our heads together, but I&8217;ve got some young girls. It&8217;s a tough, tough loss. I feel like when they come to our house&8230;.&8221;