Ava Mellum shoots a jumper against Oasis Academy Thursday. Mellum hit 12 shots for a game-high 24 points for Sierra Lutheran.
The final sixty seconds of regulation was the difference between Sierra Lutheran girls basketball and Oasis Academy (5-5) Thursday night.
The Falcons had their chance after a go-ahead basket from Ava Mellum gave Sierra Lutheran a 42-41 edge with 55 seconds remaining, but the Bighorns closed with two buckets of their own for a 45-42 win.
Oasis Academy’s Brooklynn Whitaker sank a putback basket to retake the lead at 43-42 before the Bighorns got out in transition for the final basket.
Sierra Lutheran had a one-and-one chance at the free throw line with 36.9 seconds to play, but missed the front end.
Though the final result drops the Falcons to 2-9 on the year, Sierra Lutheran head coach Danika Neal thought the end of game scenario showed plenty about her team.
“Our girls can really dig deep and make changes when we ask,” said Neal. “It gives me a lot of insight into what we need to improve, but also what strengths we have moving forward.”
Setting up the final moments
Sierra Lutheran played from behind nearly the length of the game after taking an early 6-2 lead, but never fell out of striking range.
To start the fourth, the Falcons trailed 33-27 after the Bighorns earned three points the hard way off an and-one opportunity.
Jaden Spotts tallied a bucket on the other end to cut the gap to four at 33-29 before Madison Castro knocked down a free throw to make it a one possession game.
Oasis Academy pushed out to a 37-32 lead after two baskets and a pair of free throws midway through the final quarter.
It was Mellum who once again showed her talents with a pair of putback scores on consecutive possessions to bring Sierra Lutheran within one, 37-36.
The sophomore guard had a game-high 24 points for Sierra Lutheran.
“I think she’s grown in confidence as a leader,” said Neal of Mellum. “She can command the court and she knows the game very well.”
Spotts gave the Falcons their first lead since the first quarter after draining a pair of shots from the charity stripe, but the Bighorns once again found an answer on the other end.
Whitaker found some space in the lane and buried a layup after an interior pass from Sadie O’Flaherty. Whitaker ended the night with 20 points for Oasis Academy.
“This was one of the first games our girls have been in with this sort of energy in the gym,” said Neal. “I think it was really motivating for the girls ... I think it was encouraging that so many of their friends came out to support them.”
UP NEXT: Sierra Lutheran will look to pick up a win on the road Tuesday evening at Whittell (3-6).