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Granruth’s buzzer beater lifts Wakefield girls over Hawks, 45-43

Sunday, Jan. 27 | By Peter Brewington
Wakefield players sprint to mob Emily Granruth after her game winning basket at the final buzzer. --Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Emily Granruth was enduring one of the worst shooting nights of her illustrious career.

“I couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean,” the Wakefield School senior guard admitted.

But when it counted, Granruth made one of the biggest and most dramatic baskets of her life, leaping up and banking a shot literally as the buzzer sounded to beat rival Highland School, 45-43, Saturday night in The Plains.

After Highland freshman Kendall Mayer tied the game at 43-43 on an offensive rebound follow-up with seven seconds left, Wakefield guard Airielle Jenkins pushed the ball upcourt before firing a 3-pointer off the backboard as the clock wound down.

Seeing Jenkins shoot perhaps prematurely, with about four seconds left, Granruth raced in from the left wing into the lane, snatched the rebound and tossed in a short bank shot that beat the buzzer.

“You never know where the ball will land,” said Granruth on her hustle play. “I expected her (Jenkins) to pass, I was caught off guard. But I thought, 'Oh man, I have a chance,' and got it with a volleyball tip.”

As Wakefield's bench erupted to mob Granruth, Highland coach Gary Leake and his players stood wide-eyed, wondering if the basket would stand since it was awfully close to coming after the buzzer.

The basket did count, and in a show of great sportsmanship, Leake later heartily congratulated Wakefield coach Paul Sipes and his players, beaming broadly at the fantastic finish.

“The refs counted it, it must have been good,” said Leake. “We should have gotten the rebound.”

It was Granruth’s second buzzer beater against Highland. She raced upcourt to perform the feat to beat the Hawks her sophomore year, also at Wakefield. “This is getting old, I’ll be glad when she graduates,” Leake quipped.

Despite her early struggles, Granruth still finished with a game-high 19 points.

The game was an up-and-down affair between the two best teams in the Delaney Athletic Conference.

Wakefield started poorly, trailing 12-2 early in the first quarter as Granruth got off to a miserable start, going 0-for-6 on 3-pointers in the quarter.

The Owls rallied to trail 12-9 after the first quarter, thanks in large part to Jenkins, a quick sophomore guard who continually drove past Hawk defenders to the basket and got fouled. She ended up shooting an amazing 14 free throws in the first half, making just 5, as the first half ended with Highland leading 23-21. Jenkins finished 8-for-18 from the line and scored 10 points.

Highland, playing without starting forwards Lauren Frye (playing in a volleyball tournament) and Mackenzie Ross (illness in the family), got a huge game from sophomore center Katie Meckus, who scored a team-high 13 points and registered 12 blocked shots.

Thanks to Meckus, senior point guard Jesssica Shaw (11 points), and junior guard Michele Micciche, Highland built a 36-32 lead in the fourth quarter.

But Wakefield recovered thanks to senior guard Kelly Mason, who scored seven of her 11 points when the game was on the line. Mason drilled a clutch 3-pointer from the left wing to close Wakefield’s deficit to 36-35, then went coast-to-coast with a rebound and was fouled, making one free throw to tie the game at 36-36.

Moments later freshman Julianna Parra stroked an open 3-pointer from the right corner as Wakefield took a 41-39 lead with 3:45 left.

The game see-sawed down the stretch. Meckus tied the game for the Hawks with a driving bank shot with 3:11 to go, but Mason gave the
Owls a 43-41 edge on a driving layup against a packed Highland zone with 24 seconds to go.

Highland answered on Mayer’s opportunistic layup with seven seconds left, setting up Granruth’s heroics.

And Wakefield’s all-time leading scorer delivered.

“I love Highland week. They’re always close games and we're always excited going into them,” Granruth said.

The game was one of six played at Wakefield Saturday as part of a charity to benefit the Marshall Fire Department, culminating in a decisive 66-45 win by the Highland boys over Wakefield.

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