By Todd Milles
Not once, but twice – Bethany Montgomery thought she was sending the Wilson High Rams to overtime.
And both times, she and the Rams had their hearts ripped out under the most peculiar of circumstances.
In an ending as controversial and it was climatic, fourth-ranked Wilson fell just short of Seattle Prep, 36-33, in the Class 3A state girls’ semifinals in the Tacoma Dome on Friday afternoon.
The Rams saw their best season in school history in stunning fashion. Meanwhile, what can you say about the No. 5 Panthers – they may not love close games, but they now how to take control of them.
They will meet Metro League rival and second-ranked Cleveland for a fourth time tonight after having lost the three previous games to the Eagles by a combined nine points.
Many feel the Rams should have been there, too – or at least play on in overtime to duke it out another extra session against Seattle Prep for the right.
The question anyone who was around the west-end court wants answered – where was Montgomery’s foot on the Rams’ final shot with two seconds remaining, and Wilson trailing 34-31?
The standout herself acknowledged she saw her foot was on the 3-point line with the clock running down. She said she pivoted back and fired away over two Seattle Prep defenders.
“I made sure,” she said. “In that situation, you make sure.”
As soon as the ball swished through the basket, for the few seconds after that, everyone thought the game was tied at 34-34.
But somewhere amid Wilson players jumping up and down, the official near the Rams’ bench immediately ran from his spot and called the shot a long two-point attempt.
Going from thinking she tied the game to hearing the worst news of her basketball life, Montgomery went ballistic, taking off her jersey near the team bench. She was assessed an automatic technical foul.
Seattle Prep’s Holly Tonry made both free throws. The Panthers inbounded the ball, ran out the clock and ended up with a hard-earned win.
A few seconds before Montgomery’s final shot, the Rams were in the same predicament with seven seconds to go. The Eastern Washington signee had the basketball in her hands on that occasion, too – and was knocked down trying to get off a long 3-pointer.
One referee called a foul, which would have given the senior three free throws to tie the game.
But another official overruled him, instead granting Wilson coach Michelle Birge a timeout.