It was going to go in eventually.
Shanice Graves knew, at some point, the ball was going to go into the net. She just didn’t expect to have to wait until the fourth quarter.
The Grand Street Campus shooting guard drained her first jumper with just minutes left on the clock, and it was the most important shot of the game — a three-pointer to give her team the lead it wouldn’t surrender en route to a 52–47 victory over Francis Lewis on Jan. 9.
“I didn’t want to give up, I’m not a give up type of person,” Graves said. “That’s my motivation. Once I make it, it’s like an adrenaline run and I just keep going.”
Both teams struggled to find momentum early on, riding respective scoring droughts throughout the first half. Grand Street (6–0) was able to get a bit of an advantage in the second quarter, though, bolstered by a strong full-court press that forced Francis Lewis into mental mistakes and turnovers.
“They did a good job of trying to beat our pressure,” Grand Street coach Corey Mcfarlane said. “When they did beat it, they scored. When they didn’t beat it, they turned it over. It was kind of like feast or famine. But we made it work.”
The Lady Wolves took a 22–19 lead into the break after Asianae Johnson drained a buzzer-beater layup, but Francis Lewis came out firing in the early-going of the third quarter. Sabrina Clement led the charge, scoring eight of a team-high 17 in the period.
It was enough to give Francis Lewis a bit of offensive confidence and set Grand Street back on its defensive heels, suddenly trailing 35–32 heading into the fourth quarter.
“I tried to keep my team together, and we all try to keep each other up,” said senior center Apilyn Bonny. “It all starts with talking on defense. We’re always trying to keep each other up, because if you get down, it’s not going to help anybody.”
Grand Street rallied in the fourth quarter as Lakeisha Officer hit her stride. The junior forward held her own on the block, hauling down rebounds and notching her own eight-point run early in the fourth quarter to help the Lady Wolves claw back into the matchup.
The key for Grand Street was in its transition game — it dominated on the glass, pushed the ball out quickly, and stayed a step ahead of the Patriots down the stretch.
“We’ve got big girls, and when they rebound the ball and they’re strong with it, we can get into transition,” Mcfarlane said. “That gives us a great opportunity to get out.”
Graves drained her first trey with 4:15 on the clock and followed up with two more before the final whistle, padding the Lady Wolves lead down the stretch. The squad wrapped up the game on a 12–5 run.
“Once we go on a run, that’s it,” Graves said. “We’re just unstoppable after that.”
It wasn’t a perfect victory, but it was another win and, right now, that’s all the Lady Wolves care about. They’re ready to surprise a few people and performances like this are going to make the difference come playoff time.
“I think that we’ve worked really hard,” Bonny said. “We didn’t come out strong at the beginning of this game. Once we come out pushing, then we’re basically unstoppable.”