PORTLAND — Nobody knows better at the moment than Jesuit’s Anna Fanelli what basketball people have been saying since the ball had laces:
It’s not the size of the player, it’s the size of the play.
Fanelli grew from her customary 5-foot-5 all the way up to hero status Wednesday night with a pair of last-second plays that added up to a 42-40 home victory for the sixth-ranked Crusaders over No. 3 Beaverton.
First, she tied the game at 37-37 with a surprise layup with one second left in regulation time.
Then the big one: With the game tied at 40 in the overtime, Fanelli drove three-fourths the length of the floor with 3.8 seconds left on the clock and Beaverton’s superb guard Mary Kay Naro practically sharing her jersey all the way, then flipped the ball up from the free-throw line with no real assurance that it had a chance.
The ball hit the backboard and rattled around inside the rim before falling through just as the horn went off to end the game. Fanelli didn’t resurface from the mob of teammates around her for a full 30 seconds.
“We just talked about me going off a screen (from teammate Kailynn Tuck),” Fanelli said of the game winner, still a little dazed at what she’d done. “I had to dribble down the court, and I knew I had about two seconds left.
“I’d been getting my shots blocked all game, so I had kind of a hesitation in my mind. Mary Kay was right on me, so I just threw it up there and luckily it went in.”
Was it even aimed? “No, not at all,” Fanelli said. “I was just coming back down to the ground and looking at the wall. Then I looked up and it was going in.
“I was thinking, oh, no, I did not just do that again, did I?”
Over on the bench, Crusaders coach Jason Lowery kept it simple.
“It was get the ball to Anna and make a play,” he said. “She was supposed to get a screen, but she was able to get it on the move and shoot it. I told her four seconds was plenty of time to at least get to the basket.
“I thought, well, at least we got a shot off. I was just glad we didn’t turn the ball over.”
At the beginning of the game it looked as if the Crusaders might have the game under control. Four different Crusaders hit four different three-pointers in the first quarter and the home team was off to a 16-9 lead.
A layup by Elsa Hookland extended the lead to 18-9 and Jesuit looked like a shoo-in.
The Beavers, who have played a murderous schedule this year, looked a little tired after Monday’s close loss to Benson in the MLK Holiday Invitational at Portland State.
But they may also be the best 9-8 team in state history, and eventually they crawled back into the game the old-fashioned way: They extended their defenders out against Jesuit’s shooters and locked up the key with their bigger, stronger forwards.
Offensively, Beaverton went Naro-minded. Sophomore guard Mackenzie Naro came off the bench for three three-pointers of her own, then when older sister Mary Kay hit the first of her two three-balls, the Beavers had their first lead since the opening seconds, 34-32.
Mackenzie Naro’s last three-pointer, a 25-footer with 3:35 left in the game, put the Beavers up by five, 37-32.
Hookland dropped her own three-ball 32 seconds later to draw the Crusaders to within two with fully 3:03 left. Then the two teams traded missed opportunities until Mary Kay Naro missed a free throw with 9.6 seconds left, and the Crusaders got the ball with just 4.7 to go.
The play was supposed to be a three-pointer from the corner to win it with Savannah Corradini.
“I didn’t run the play right,” Fanelli said. “I was supposed to go back to the other side for a three-pointer, but I didn’t do it.”
Beaverton forced a rushed pass from the sideline. Then the ball went past two Beaverton defenders and right under the basket. Here came Fanelli.
“I just saw the ball up in the air and I decided I might as well go get it,” she said. “I saw the basket wide open and just laid it in.”
Turns out she was just warming up for a bigger moment.
Corradini scored a game-high 11 points. Hookland, Mary Kay Naro and Beaverton’s Alexa Borter each had 10 points.
The Metro League is now a three-way mess. No. 1 Southridge sits alone at the top at 4-0 with the Crusaders at 4-1 then Beaverton at 3-1.