MIDLOTHIAN – Harnessing the magic of senior night – that was what Midlothian seniors Brandi Spillers and Hannah Miller wanted to do in their final basketball game.
The Lady Panthers’ lone two seniors led the team with 11 points each and the kind of leadership you’d expect from seasoned veterans in a 37-34 overtime win over Grand Prairie.
Spillers hit Miller with a pass for a go-ahead jumper with 2:33 left to play and then turned a Kayla Robinson steal into a game-sealing layup with 40.4 seconds left in the game. In all, the two Midlothian seniors were responsible for 11 of the team’s last 13 points over the fourth period and overtime.
“Definitely felt the pressure a little bit,” Spillers said with a smile. “It was the last game, you want to win, especially against this team because they’re out there talking junk to you and you want to beat them.”
Technically, it should have been a winning finale for the duo as the Grand Prairie contest was originally scheduled as the last game of the regular season for Midlothian. Last week’s weather conditions forced postponements of two games, meaning the team is headed to Cedar Hill today.
Win or lose in Cedar Hill, the Lady Panthers were glad to leave the court on Tuesday with a much-needed “W.”
Early on, Miller and Spillers both appeared to be struggling, missing their first four combined shots as the team saw a 6-4 lead turn into a 10-6 deficit. The game eventually tightened as the pair began to heat up, culminating with a Spillers shot just before halftime to cut the margin down to two at 22-20.
The third period was a dead spot for both teams as Midlothian won the scoring battle 4-2 in the period to create a 24-24 tie heading into the fourth. That’s when the seniors took control.
Miller scored five points in the period, including a free throw with 36.9 seconds left that gave the team 33 points, leading to the tied score and overtime. Haley Lott’s jumper off a Robinson assist was the only basket from the fourth quarter on not scored by one of the two seniors. The duo were a big part of the second half surge, which forced defensive stops on 6-of-9 Grand Prairie possessions in the third period and held the Lady Gophers to just 13 second half points.
“We needed people to be calm and take care of the basketball and just really be confident in themselves and their teammates and I felt like those two girls really did that tonight,” coach Brooke Walthall said.
Both teams found little in the first few moments of overtime before Spillers forced a turnover and passed the ball up ahead to Miller for the go-ahead jumper. On the next possession, Midlothian forced another turnover but couldn’t cash in.
The second time around the team got it right as Robinson picked up a steal and found Spillers open for a basket. She would be fouled but missed the free throw to keep it a three-point game. After the Lady Panthers missed two free throws with 16.8 seconds left to keep the game within reach, Heather Sides stepped up by grabbing a missed three-point attempt with little time left, dribbling off the last moments.
At 6-24 overall, both players admit their senior season has been trying at best. But one last win will go a long way to helping the team pull out a positive memory about its days on the hardwood.
“I think it’s awesome. This season’s been kind of rough but I think going out on a win gets everybody in a better mindset about the season,” Miller said.