Title Niners won the CBRC Mansion Park Summer Basketball girls title last year, and the Niners returned to the championship game this season.
Standing in the Niners' way, however, was a Perry Wellington Realty team that handed the defending champs their only loss during the season. Actually, PWR's only loss was to the Niners.
The Niners and PWR, both of whom just barely able to put five starters on the court, stayed close throughout Wednesday night's game, but the Niners pulled away in the final minute to repeat as champs, 52-48.
Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec
Title Niners’ Lacey Claar dribbles as Perry Wellington Realty’s Alana Daniels defends during Wednesday night’s championship.
"To come back and win it again really meant a lot to us," Niners guard Ashley Brown said. "We've been six or seven strong all season, so it was nice to win with the girls who were here tonight. We had some people on vacation and some people working. We kept our fingers crossed that it all went well.
"I've been in the league for nine years, and it's always been a real close game with that team. We always go back and forth. They're a great team. I can't take anything from them. They always give us a run for our money, and vice versa."
Perry Wellington connected on more field goals, 19-17, and PWR's Alissa Myers led all scorers with 16, but the Niners hit nine more free throws, 12-3, than the foul-bitten PWR.
"We're both able to hit our shots," said Niners center Steph Hatch, who tied Laura Beck with a team-high 13 points, "but I think the team that outhustled won tonight, even though it was close. It was a good game."
"I think we knew it was going to be tough," said PWR's Alana Daniels, who scored 11 points. "We both had one loss all summer to each other. We weren't hitting a lot of shots, and everything seemed to be falling for them."
Hatch got the Niners off to a fast start, scoring seven of her team's first nine points.
"Steph always has a hot hand," Brown said. "She's been strong every season she's played for us."
Myers connected on a 3-pointer with 1:36 left in the game to get PWR within two points, 48-46, but the Niners hit their free throws late in the game to retain the title.
"We're just out here to have a good time," Brown said. "Win or lose, we're still smiling and laughing at the end of the game. That's the nice thing about the team. We're just here to have a good time and get some exercise along the way."
"They're a great team," Hatch said, "so we were expecting it to be a very close game up until the last 5 seconds."
TITLE NINERS (52): Beck 4 1-2 13, Claar 3 5-9 11, Brown 2 2-4 7, Becker 1 0-0 2, Hershel 2 2-4 6, Hatch 5 2-4 13. Totals - 17 12-23 52.
PERRY WELLINGTON REALTY (48): Myers 6 1-4 16, Daniels 4 1-2 11, Haulman 2 0-0 4, Conlon 0 1-2 1, Shoup 4 0-0 10, Tubo 3 0-0 6. Totals - 19 3-8 48.
SCORE BY HALVES
Title Niners33 19 - 52
Perry Wellington Realty31 17 - 48
3-point goals: Title Niners 6 (Beck 4, Claar 1, Hatch 1); Perry Wellington Realty 7 (Myers 3, Daniels 2, Shoup 2).