Spring Valley junior forward Savonia Bryan has to go back to the time she was about 12 years old to recall being on the free throw line with a game on the line in the final seconds.
Before Tuesday night, that is.
With the Vikings' Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational semifinal contest against Peddie School tied, Bryan snared an offensive rebound and was fouled on a put-back attempt with 0.7 seconds remaining.
Bryan was scoreless in the game, and missed the first of two free throws.
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"Before the first one I was real nervous, I was shaking. It's a lot of pressure," Bryan said. "But after I missed it I stepped back and thought to myself, 'You know, what's the worst we can do? We can go into overtime and we can pull it out in overtime, or I can just hit the shot and just relax.'
"So I stepped back up to the line, I was more confident and I shot it and it went in."
Bryan's only point Tuesday at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center gave Spring Valley a 51-50 win and sent the Vikings into a meeting with Redan High in today's 3 p.m. championship game of the 11th annual Crescent Bank Invitational. Redan, of Stone Mountain, Ga., defeated defending champion Fayette County (Ga.) in Monday's late semifinal.
Spring Valley (11-1) is trying to become the first South Carolina team to win the 16-team Crescent Bank Invitational since 2001, and is the third squad from the Palmetto State to play for a championship in the past eight years, joining North Augusta in 2006 and Dreher in 2003.
"I think it's huge for our girls," said Spring Valley coach Anne Long, who led the Vikings to the 2009 Class AAAA state championship in her first season at the school.
"We've shown we can play with some of the best. ... We're defending state champions, and I'm real pleased to know and for the girls to see they can compete with some good nationally-ranked teams and some very good Division I players."
Peddie School (4-1) is the 13-time defending independent school state champion in New Jersey and was seeking a return to the Crescent Bank Invitational championship game. Duke commitment Haley Peters, who tallied 20 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals, tied the game at 50 with 2:30 remaining, and the Vikings maintained possession from that point until the game-winning free throw.
Sophomore Asia Dozier threw up a wayward pullup attempt off the glass in the waning seconds and Peddie's Karima Gabriel blocked the Vikings' first put-back attempt before Bryan gained possession.
"We were trying to make sure we didn't pick up a silly foul at that point," Peddie coach Sean Casey said. "But the kid missed a shot, they got the rebound, it bounced around, and there was a foul called with 0.7 seconds left. There's not a lot you can do about that. And give her credit, she stepped up and made the shot."
A 19-2 run by Peddie beginning late in the first half and extending 4 minutes into the second half gave the Falcons a 10-point lead, but pressure defense helped the Vikings catch Peddie, and the game's final five minutes featured four lead changes and a tie.
Spring Valley forced 14 turnovers, including nine on steals. Sophomore forward Xylina McDaniel had game highs with four steals and 23 points to go along with nine rebounds, and the Vikings were successful with pressure in the second half despite all five starters - three juniors and two sophomores - playing at least 31 of the game's 32 minutes.
"It was just shear determination," Long said. "We like to play pressure defense, but this team is pretty deliberate and pretty solid and doesn't make a lot of mistakes. But in the end it's what did it for us."