By JASON EPP
After losing four starters from last year’s second straight state tournament team, The Beaver Lady Dusters were not supposed to even be playing this late in the playoffs.
But when Erin Becker was fouled making a layup, her subsequent free throw gave the Lady Dusters a 14-3 lead with just seconds left in the first quarter and had Beaver believing.
Cashion, with two state titles in the previous decade, had faced adversity like this before and was able to mount a comeback to win 44-36, and end the Lady Dusters season.
What had put the Lady Dusters in great position was the same thing that all Casey Jones coached teams have hung their hat on - great defense. Cashion did not have a field goal until Bailey Wilkerson’s layup went in as the horn sounded to end the first period. Beaver’s top three defenders were on the sideline on that play to avoid an unnecessary foul on the quarter’s final play.
Becker was on fire with 10 first quarter points, but was cooled off early in the second quarter when she headed to the bench after being whistled for her third foul.
Cashion answered Beaver’s 14-3 run with a 13-2 run of there own to tie the game. Anna McDonald was on the bench for much of the run with a leg injury.
Tristan McQuitty scored on a layup with less that ten seconds left in the half to give the Lady Dusters a slim 18-16 lead heading into the locker room.
The first four minutes of the second half saw three lead changes and two ties. A 7-1 run at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter gave Cashion the lead for good at 32-27.
With his team trailing 36-31, Jones did not wait and ordered his girls to foul and send Cashion to the line with four minutes to play to try to extend the game. But Cashion made 8 of 9 free throws down the stretch, and Beaver was unable to get closer than five the rest of the way.
Free throws were a huge advantage for Cashion who went 15 of 23 from the line while Beaver only shot 7, making 5.
Erin Becker finished the game 6 for 16 from the field for 15 points, and Anna McDonald scored six and grabbed 6 rebounds.
The Lady Dusters finished the season 17-10, and without a single senior on this year’s team looks to have a bright future ahead.