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At the end of daily practices, the Carmel girls basketball players work on free throws.
"And if you don't make them, you run," said Corsairs junior forward Kaitlyn Lynch. "So the whole team is depending on you."
Lynch had the whole team depending on her with 7.1 seconds remaining in overtime Wednesday night at St. Viator's Cahill Gymnasium.
Seemingly unfazed, Lynch sank 2 free throws, with a time out in between, to lift the Corsairs to a dramatic 51-49 East Suburban Catholic Conference triumph.
"After the game I said those were great shots by Kaitlyn," said Carmel coach Kelly Perz. "She said 'I was so nervous,' but she looked like she had ice in her veins."
A graduate of St. Joseph School in Libertyville, Lynch (8 points, 5 rebounds) said it's always an exciting rivalry with St. Viator because many of the girls played against each other before high school.
"It's intense, they're our rival," Lynch said. "We always want to win this game."
The Corsairs (11-8, 2-3) also depended heavily upon 6-foot senior forward Beth Scudder, who connected for a season-high 22 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
While her first seven baskets were all from inside, Scudder hit a huge 16-footer from left of the free throw line with 1:02 left in OT for a 49-48 lead.
St. Viator (11-11, 1-4) had just taken its first lead of the game at 48-47 on 2 free throws by senior guard Taylor Skala (12 points, 7 steals, 3 rebounds, 2 blocked shots) with 1:24 left.
Scudder then answered the big shot of her own.
"Everyone is always telling me to take outside shots," Scudder said with a smile. "So I finally did it."
A free throw by Lions junior forward Lauren Rooney (12 points, 17 rebounds, 4 blocked shots) with 53 seconds left tied the game at 49-49.
Carmel jumped ahead early in the game.
Two free throws by Scudder and a 16-footer by sophomore Claire Ogrinc after a steal by Lynch (8 points, 5 rebounds) gave the Corsairs a 21-9 lead with 6:30 left in the second quarter.
But the Lions battled back and twice got to within 1 point in the third quarter.
A 15-footer by Morgan Hess brought the Lions to within 31-30 and a layup by Katie Gavin (10 points, 3 steals) made it 33-32.
Carmel's biggest lead the rest of the way was 4 points.
The Corsairs went ahead 42-40 on a bank shot by Sarah McHugh (9 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals) off an assist from Lynch.
Skala's 14-footer bounced in off the rim and tied the game at 42-42 with 46 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Carmel then had a chance to win it in regulation but Skala came up with a big block on Scudder's inside attempt with seven seconds left.
The Lions missed a 24-footer at the buzzer to send the game to OT.
"We had a last shot at regulation, a little further out than we wanted, but a decent look, and we had the final shot of overtime," said Lions coach Paul Bjerkness. "If they go in, it's a different story. We missed a lot of good looks in the game.
"But Carmel played a whale of a game. They beat us. But we are really proud of our girls."
Scudder also had 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
"It was just so frustrating because we worked so hard at the beginning to get that lead," Scudder said. "At half, our coach told us they were cutting into our lead (Corsairs led 27-21 at the break) and we had to get it going again."
Corsairs junior guard Madeline Felipez added 6 points and 5 steals while senior guard Erin Quinn handed out 3 assists.
"It's always a battle with St. Viator, regardless of the records of the teams," Perz said. "Our game plan was to get the ball inside because we knew we had a height advantage. We were confident in Beth (Scudder) and Sarah (McHugh)."
And Lynch showed confidence at the end for the winning free throws.
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