No one had a bigger smile on her face than Jess Demry when the final buzzer sounded on Friday.
Sure, Demry had just scored a co-team high 12 points to help put the Centerville girls basketball team in position to win Friday night in Albia. But it wasn’t until the senior guard hauled in a long inbound pass that the Redettes could officially celebrate their third straight win.
Just when it seemed like that victory was literally up in the air, Demry pulled it in by grabbing the final pass of the night with one second left to clinch a 61-59 South Central Conference win over the Lady Dees.
“There was a little bit of happiness and a little bit of relief,” Demry said of her smile at the end of the game.
Demry was hardly alone in smiling when the clock finally zero.
“We’ve been practicing and working really hard, so it felt really good when that actually happened,” junior Maddie Lange said of the game’s final play.
Lange joined Demry in scoring 12 points, using her defense to help spark the Redettes as much as her offense. Lange collected a team-high four steals, including a key late-game breakaway lay-up that highlighted a 7-2 run late in the contest, giving Centerville a seven-point cushion in the final two minutes.
“I feel like that play gave us a lot more confidence,” Lange said. “We all wanted to work hard, get back on defense and keep going until we won.”
Lange was also one of several Redette shooters to get a little bit of help from the backboards at the Albia High School Gymnasium on Friday. The junior was one of six Centerville players to hit one of the team’s nine 3-pointers, six of which banked in.
“Sometimes you have to get a little lucky, but we definitely want to keep shooting it,” Centerville head coach Nic Belloma said. “We feel like the more shots we can get up, the more shots that will eventually start falling.”
“Even when you’re having an off night, you just have to keep shooting,” Lange said after Centerville started the game by missing their first nine shots from the field. “Our philosophy has helped me a lot. It’s taught me to just keep working hard and just keep shooting.”
It’s those kind of breaks that have been going Centerville’s way lately and haven’t been on the side of the Lady Dees. Head coach Larry Achenbach talked about defending a Centerville team that shot 27 of their 48 field goal attempts from beyond the arc and sent Albia to their ninth straight loss.
“It’s tough to play defense that well and get a hand in the shooters face only to see some of those shots go back in,” Achenbach said. “I thought we did a good job making it tough on them all night, but they just kept firing away from out there.”
Albia refused to go away despite falling behind by as many as nine points in the second half. The Lady Dees crashed the glass, outrebounding Centerville 46-35 on the night with junior a 19-point, 14-rebound double-double by Brooke Bettis leading the way.
“That helped keep us in the game, but there were a few rebounds on the other end we couldn’t get,” Achenbach said. “It seemed like Centerville always made us pay anytime they gave themselves a second chance.”
Bettis scored her final two points from the foul line to cut a 61-57 Centerville lead down to two with just one second left. After a timeout, a lofted inbound pass gave Albia a chance to come up with a steal and a chance to steal the win.
Instead, Demry came down with Centerville’s fifth win of the season and third in SCC play.
“We’re starting to mature a lot as a team. The girls are finally starting to see the results of this new philosophy,” Belloma said. “They’re doing a great job sharing the basketball.”
Albia (2-10, 0-4) hosts Pleasantville on Monday while Centerville (5-8, 3-2) travels to Mount Pleasant on Tuesday.