For the first time ever, the Freeport Lady Bulldogs ran the table to the take the title in the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf and Resort and Spa Basketball Blowout.
"This is the first time ever in the championship game for any Freeport team," said a hoarse Freeport Coach Mike Myrick following Monday night's 50-48 victory over Ponce de Leon in the semi-finals.
It took taking the championship game into overtime, but the Freeport Bulldogs beat out William Blount High School of Tennessee, 70-64 in overtime with Mary Kate Myrick leading the way with 23 points.
Although Mary Kate didn't have the highest points scored Monday night in the semi-finals, she did bounce a shot off the backboard for the game winning basket at the buzzer to advance the Bulldogs to the championship game.
The semi-final game was a battle of area rivals to the end.
In the first quarter, the scoring went back and forth with the lead changing hands three times. The Ponce de Leon Pirates held a slight 16-14 lead at the buzzer.
Freeport came out with a vengeance in the second quarter and reeled off 11 points before Ponce de Leon got a shot to fall. By the half, the Bulldogs were up 32-22.
In the third quarter, the Pirates gained some ground outscoring the Bulldogs 16-10. However, Freeport still held a four-point lead going in the final quarter.
At the start of the fourth, Ponce de Leon put up 10 unanswered points to go up 48-42. With 1:30 left in the game, Freeport's Katie O'Neal nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game up at 48-48 with 36 seconds left to play.
Ponce de Leon turned the ball over and Freeport got possession. A couple of timeouts were called with the last being at 6 seconds. Freeport's Megan O'Neal fired off a 3-pointer that got wedged between the basket and the backboard with .06 seconds showing on the clock. The Pirates got the ball and threw it the distance, but nobody touched it. Freeport got one last chance under the basket. The ball was inbounded to Mary Kate, who bounced it off the backboard for a buzzer beater.
"That was the only chance we had," said an out-of-breath Coach Myrick. "If it goes in, we win; if not, it's overtime.
Mary Kate then described the last second, game-winning shot.
"I knew it was coming to me," Mary Kate said. "I wasn't nervous, because if I had missed we'd gone into overtime. I was just trying to make it go in.”
Mary Kate explained that she along with Katie and Megan O'Neal practice that shot off the backboard a lot in practice just for fun.
"I owe it to them for making me practice it all the time," she said.
For the game, Katie O'Neal led the Bulldogs with 21 points. Myrick scored 13 points and Laura Ham 11.
Scoring double digits for Ponce de Leon were Hannah Howell with 25 points, and Brittany Alford, 14.
Earlier in the tournament, the Lady Bulldog beat White Plains of Alabama 72-44 with Megan O'Neal out front with 32 points.
The Freeport boys standing in the Basketball Blowout are as follows:
• Jellico, 67 - Freeport 48 (top scorer for Freeport was Ryder Newman with 11 points)
• Freeport 43, Ponce de Leon 36 (tops for Freeport was Mason Hall with 15 points)
• Walton 51, Freeport 36 (tops for Freeport was Hall with 11 points)