DENTON — The basketball gods giveth and the basketball gods taketh away.
An overtime after Gainesville pulled out a miraculous comeback in the final moments of a Region II-3A bi-district playoff game, Celina returned the favor with a furious comeback of its own to top the Lady Leopards 51-49 on Monday on the campus of Texas Woman’s University.
Gainesville junior Ariannah Kemp connected on a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 46-46 to send the game to overtime and cap off a 5-1 swing for the Lady Leopards in the final 23.7 seconds of regulation.
Celina, who will play Melissa in the area round, would engineer a comeback of its own in the final moments of the extra period, scoring three points in the final 18.2 seconds to pull out the win.
With the Lady Leopards up 49-48 and less than 30 seconds to play, Gainesville’s Chandler Kemp grabbed a rebound to take up court. Before the Lady Cats could foul to preserve time, Gainesville opted for a timeout.
Following the timeout, Celina stole the inbounds pass before Lady Cat sophomore KJ Stastny would be fouled going up for a layup under the basket. Stastny would connect on both free throws to give Celina a 50-49 lead.
Another Gainesville turnover led to more foul shots for the Lady Cats as Alex Jones would connect on the first of two free throws to give Celina its final score of 51-49.
Ariannah Kemp led Gainesville (21-11) with 21 points. Kiarah Manuel had 14 points and Hali Smith had seven points.
Gainesville trailed 42-36 with less than four minutes to go following a free throw from Celina’s Sarah Cantu, who scored a team-high 17 points for the Lady Cats.
The Lady Leopards pick up a quick 5-1 swing with a Manuel 3-pointer and two free throws from Ariannah Kemp to set up a final 23.7 seconds that saw Celina miss four consecutive free throws to relinquish the lead as time expired.