Just one minute into Pillow Academy’s Class 4A playoff matchup with Central Hinds, it looked as if the Lady Mustangs would be without their top two scorers when Caroline Brock went down with an injured ankle, joining Kaylee Jones (torn ACL) on the bench.
Brock’s foot was throbbing, but the thought of ending her career with a first-round exit was even more painful for the standout senior.
Willing herself back into action a few minutes later, Brock returned to score 15 points and carry Pillow to a 48-46 victory over the Cougars in overtime.
“I had nothing to heal (my ankle) up for if I sat,” said Brock, who also had five rebounds and three steals. “I took a couple of ibuprofen and they started kicking in, so that helped.”
Senior forward Madeline Kelly also came up clutch down the stretch to help the Lady Mustangs (22-4) advance to Friday’s semifinals. Kelly scored seven of her 10 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including the go-ahead bucket with 15 seconds left in overtime.
Madeline Kelly scored the go-ahead bucket on a strong drive with 13 seconds left in overtime and Caroline Brock iced the game with a pair of free throws to give Pillow a thrilling 48-46 victory over Central Hinds in the first round of the 4A playoffs. pic.twitter.com/TaxACOXfOd— Greenwood Commonwealth Sports (@GWC_Sports) February 23, 2021
“I knew I had to step up because Kaylee wasn’t there and usually she’s our go-to person,” said Kelly, who also grabbed seven boards. “I just had to make plays.”
Central Hinds’ MaKenzie Hankins (15 points) and Madyson Maw (14 points) didn’t make it easy on Pillow, though. The junior duo kept the Cougars within striking distance down 25-20 at halftime before cutting their deficit to just 31-29 entering the final frame.
Central Hinds took its first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter on an and-1 finish from Maw and jumped ahead 36-31, but Anna Taylor Hudson answered with a pair of floaters to slow the Cougars’ run.
The back and forth continued with both teams trading punches until Maw buried a contested 3-pointer to tie the game at the end of regulation.
We’re going to OT with Pillow and Central Hinds tied at 42-42 after this clutch game-tying 3-pointer by Madyson Maw. pic.twitter.com/85yZGMbjUp— Greenwood Commonwealth Sports (@GWC_Sports) February 23, 2021
“That hurt a little bit,” Brock said of Maw’s game-tying trey. “We just knew we had to step up for overtime.”
The turning point came in extra time when Hankins and Maw fouled out, leaving Central Hinds starving for offense. Brock and Kelly seized the opportunity, sealing the win by scoring all six of the Lady Mustangs’ points in the final period.
Julia Love Lyon finished with six points and six rebounds while Madeline Mattox (six points, three boards) and Kayla Brown (five points, four boards) gave Pillow great minutes off the bench.
Pillow will play the winner of Hartfield Academy, the top seed from the South, and East Rankin, the No. 4 seed from the North, at 1 p.m. on Friday at Hillcrest Christian.
• Contact Riley Overend at 581-7237 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @OverendOut on Twitter.