‘Rainbow’ shot saves Rams’ win

Rachel Johnson’s 38-foot fling scores as the buzzer sounds

SHEPHERDSTOWN — All of what was once a 19-point Shepherd lead had been lost. In fact, when Bluefield’s Charlene Diggs scored with her offensive rebound with eight seconds remaining the Lady Blues had a two-point lead.

Shepherd’s life in the last-gasp conference tournament appeared to be short-lived. When Rachel Johnson struggled to advance the ball with her dribble following Diggs’ go-ahead layup, the Lady Rams’ chances of getting to Charleston for the quarterfinals were on life support.

Shepherd guard Rachel Johnson gets inside for two of her 11 points as the Lady Rams defeated Bluefield, 62-61. Johnson hit a three-point shot from just past midcourt with about a second remaining to give Shepherd the tournament victory.

Shepherd guard Rachel Johnson gets inside for two of her 11 points as the Lady Rams defeated Bluefield, 62-61. Johnson
hit a three-point shot from just past midcourt with about a second remaining to give Shepherd the tournament victory.

Finally, Johnson crossed midcourt. She literally flung about a 38-footer in the direction of the basket. Her shot sailed through the arms of two Bluefield defenders.

As the buzzer sounded, Johnson’s three-point fling went through. And Shepherd had a 62-61 WVIAC tournament win to celebrate once its players could get away from the 15 or 20 students that had cascaded onto the court to mob Johnson and her teammates.

Bluefield’s 13-point halftime deficit had gone to 19 points with 16:22 to play.

It was then that the Lady Blues went to a highly aggressive full court press that was such a physical presence that it chopped points off the Shepherd lead from then until the end. The Lady Rams’ season-long problems at point guard were put in the spotlight as the Lady Blues not only caused turnovers but often scored with their extra possessions.

Shepherd’s one trump card — Gabby Flinchum — was always in foul trouble and had drawn her third and fourth foul less than a minute apart. After sitting down, Flinchum returned but fouled out with 5:10 remaining, taking with her 19 points in only 15 minutes of court time. Shepherd was ahead by six when Flinchum left for good.

Bluefield repeatedly passed inside and scored at will against the interior of Shepherd’s defense.

Bluefield kept coming, finally taking a lead with eight seconds showing.

Johnson’s long rainbow shot saved Shepherd the ignominity of losing a 19-point lead in 16 minutes . . . and kept it from losing the game.

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