8A: Vero Beach Captures Title in Double-Overtime
The 41-year wait is finally over for the Vero Beach High School girls basketball team.
Thanks to a 13-0 run in the waning minutes of the second overtime, the Fighting Indians knocked off Boca Raton, 77-68, to win the first state championship in program history Saturday night at the Lakeland Center.
Vero Beach trailed 68-64 with under three minutes to play before going on the unprecedented run.
“I don’t even know how to put what just happened into words,” Indians head coach Rahshard Morgan said. “What happened tonight was so fantastic and extraordinary that I can’t even describe it. To win your first state title, in two overtimes, after being down by four, is incredible.”
After Vero took a two-point lead on their first possession of the second overtime, the Bobcats went on an 8-0 run over the next two minutes to take a 68-64 lead — their largest of the game. With time winding down, junior Jordan Wade cut the lead to one with her first three-pointer of the night. Following a Boca Raton miss, senior Megan Gorman dribbled the length of the court and put up a hard-fought layup to help the Indians go up 69-68.
“Jordan’s three-pointer was game-changing,” Gorman said. “That was a huge shot. I don’t know if we win without that shot.”
Gorman finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds, recording her 25th double-double of the season in her final high school game.
Following two Kourtney Harris free throws the Indians took a 71-68 lead, and with 50 seconds left junior Riley Miller scored on a breakaway to widen the gap to five. The next Boca possession ended with a backcourt violation and with 22 seconds left the Bobcats head coach was whistled for a technical foul, leading to two more Vero Beach free throws that put the game out of reach.
“We made our free-throws at the end and found a way to win,” Gorman said. “I can’t even describe the feeling right now, it’s incredible. Not many people get to go out on top.”
While the last three periods were back and forth, the opening two belonged to Vero Beach. The Indians opened up the game with a 13-2 advantage and took a 22-10 lead into the second quarter.
Despite a brief Bobcats run at the end of the half, Vero took a 34-25 lead into the locker room.
After an even third quarter, things fell apart for the Indians over the final eight minutes. The Bobcats outscored Vero Beach 14-4 in the fourth quarter and had a chance to win it on the final possession.
The go-ahead three-pointer bounced off the back edge of the rim and the second chance layup bounced off the glass as time expired, sending the game into overtime tied at 50.
“We ran out of timeouts at the end and not being able to stop the game and regroup hurt us,” Morgan said.
With less than two minutes left in the first overtime the Indians held a 61-58 advantage, but a 4-0 Boca run gave the Bobcats their first lead of the night. Megan Gorman drew a foul with 19 seconds left and hit one of her two free throws to tie it at 61, and, thanks to another Boca miss at the buzzer, the game went to a second overtime.
Senior Caitlyn Smith finished with 15 points — including four 3-pointers — and Kourtney Harris finished with 16 points, five rebounds and six assists.
“This is so huge for our program and for the community,” Morgan said. “We worked so hard to get to this point.”
Added Gorman: “We were so resilient and we worked so hard for this. To be able to win it all, like that, is incredible.”