Buffalo senior point guard Jordan Jenkins caught the ball near the top of the key and knew it was likely now or never.
With the clock ticking under three seconds to play in the fourth quarter, Jenkins crossed the free-throw line and floated a shot toward the backboard that banked in as the buzzer sounded and gave the Lady Bison a 48-46 victory over Teague in the Class 3A Region III final on Saturday afternoon at the Midway ISD Arena.
Buffalo and Teague split two regular season games in District 18-3A with each team winning on its home court. After the Lady Bison claimed the third meeting with Jenkins’s buzzer-beater, the Lady Bison and Lady Lions had played three games this season that were decided by a total of eight points.
So Jenkins wanted to end it in regulation rather than give Teague a chance in overtime.
“What I saw was the open lane, so I took it,” Jenkins said. “I knew I didn’t want to go into overtime because my team was tired and we had people in foul trouble. So I just took advantage of what they gave me.”
Teague held the prolific-scoring Jenkins to 11 points, but her final basket sent Buffalo (27-4) to the state tournament later this week in San Antonio.
The Lady Lions (23-6) reached the regional tournament for the first time in program history. Teague coach Chris Nickleberry said reaching the state tournament would be a dream come true if his team could win one more.
But instead Jenkins caused her team to erupt into hysterics and dog pile on the court near their bench.
“I thought we had her bottled up,” Nickleberry said. “We were trying not to get a foul and put her on the free-throw line, so we kind of gave her a little extra space. She slipped through the cracks and we didn’t step up and she got a good clean look and made a shot at the buzzer.”
Freshman post Mollie Dittmar scored 19 points to lead Buffalo. She and Jenkins were the only Lady Bison in double digits.
Guard KaDaja NIckleberry paced the Lady Lions with 17, but she was the only Teague player to score more than seven.
Buffalo clamped down on Teague guard Ashley Nickleberry, allowing her to score just four points after she finished with 21 in a regional semifinal win over Crockett on Friday night.
But all is not lost for the Lady Lions, who had just one senior, post Kallie Brown.
“My head is right back in next season,” Chris Nickleberry said. “I’m ready to get back in it and get the girls rolling this summer and spring. Hopefully they remember this day and remember this feeling and come back hungrier.”
The back-and-forth contest had six ties and three lead changes as Teague controlled most of the middle two quarters.
The Lady Lions led by a basket when post Caelyn Thompson made a jumper on an assist from Ashley Nickleberry with 3:58 left.
Buffalo then went on a 6-0 run and led 46-42 when Jenkins made a free throw with 31 seconds on the clock.
But Teague sophomore post Destanee Roblow and KaDaja Nickleberry each put back rebounds for baskets to tie it at 46 with 14 seconds to go, setting up Jenkins’s heroic last shot.
“I told the team, ‘It’s in our power, take it,’” Chris Nickleberry said. “They’re not going to give it to us. They were the better team today. It was a slugfest, man, and they got the last punch in.”