The Lady Trojans’ Murphy Davis connected on two free throws with 26 seconds remaining, for a 47-44 lead that ultimately decided the contest.
“That was just a little bit exciting,” Lassiter coach Stephen Cosgrove quipped. “We never make it easy around here.”
Lassiter’s leading scorer, and its best shooter through the first three quarters, Maeve Vitale fouled out with 2:11 remaining. Etowah’s Taylor Kimber then converted two subsequent foul shots, and gave the Lady Eagles (13-13) a brief 45-44 lead.
Vitale finished with 13 points, nine of which came from behind the arc.
On the ensuing possession, Lassiter’s Emilee Olsen scored on a layup to reclaim the lead for the Lady Trojans (12-14) at 45-44, and allowing Cosgrove to resume a conservative half-court offense.
“Etowah went into that zone (defense) and it kind of gave us the advantage offensively,” the Lassiter coach said. “We were able to slow things down and make them come out and get us. A few times, we forced some things while we had the lead, but we made some buckets down the stretch and got it back.”
Etowah’s Tori Janos made a running layup with 18 seconds left to cut the Lassiter lead to one, but the last 10 seconds of the game contained three jump-ball rulings, with the Lady Eagles unable to attempt another shot.
The late basket was the end of a stellar night for Janos, who led all scorers with 23 points on 9-for-9 shooting from the field.
Etowah led the game at the end of the first quarter, as well as at halftime, but in the third quarter, Lassiter outscored Etowah 18-12, taking a 38-33 lead to the final period.
With the win, Lassiter clinched a state playoff berth for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
The Lady Trojans will come back Monday to play Woodstock in the region semifinal, with the tournament shifting to Etowah.
“They shoot the lights out,” Cosgrove of the Lady Wolverines, who beat Lassiter in both of the teams’ regular-season meetings. “They already lit it up against us once this year, and they’re scrappy too. Those Cherokee County kids don’t play easy.”