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Putback at finish gives Rams win

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By ROBYN DISNEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


TAMPA -- After Saturday's game, Tampa Baptist guard Natalie Alvarez posed for pictures with her teammates. Each time a flash went off, Alvarez would strike a different pose.

But perhaps the pose she struck with seconds left in the game summed up her emotions best.

With three seconds remaining, Alvarez grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to give the Rams a 49-47 win against Seminole Presbyterian and the Class A, District 8 title.

After she made the basket, Alvarez clinched her fists and raised them high in the air before the Lancers called a timeout.

"That was the longest six seconds of my life, without a doubt," Rams coach Rick Waltrip said.

Before the game, Waltrip said he did not want the game to go down to the last basket. Fortunately for him, it was his team that got the final points.

"I knew if our girls could hang in there, we could win this game," Waltrip said. "They never quit fighting."

The Rams (17-6) were down 9-0 in the first quarter before pulling within three. Tampa Baptist then went on a 10-0 run before two Lancers three-pointers tied the score at 20. The Lancers (11-12) went to halftime with a 29-26 lead.

Then Tampa Baptist put the ball into junior center Marissa Davenport's hands. She scored the Rams' first seven points in the half for a 33-32 lead. The momentum swung between the teams as the game went into the fourth quarter tied at 35.

The fourth quarter became a game of free throws as the Lancers made 8 of 16, while Tampa Baptist made 4 of 6.

With 1:12 left, senior guard Lindsay Begole stepped to the free-throw line with three chances to give her team the win.

She made one.

With the game tied, the Rams ran the clock down before calling timeout with 9.7 seconds left. After the timeout, guard Vecelia Whitehead tried a jump shot, but the ball bounced off the glass into the hands of Alvarez. She made the game-winning basket, finishing with 11 points.

"It was a total team effort, both on offense and defense," Waltrip said. "They fought all the way down to the last minute. I couldn't be any more proud of these girls."

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