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Bueme, Dockery Lead Nichols

If you left early, you missed a great ending.

Ava Bueme went 4-of-4 from the line in the final 23 seconds as Nichols School scored a stunning 51-48 come-from-behind win over Nardin Academy in the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association league opener for both teams that was played inside the Gerard Gymnasium at Nichols School.

Bueme sealed the game with 16 seconds to play when she hit a pair of free’s that put Nichols up 51-48.

Just seven seconds earlier, Bueme went 2-of-2 from the line to give Nichols its first lead of the game, 49-48.

Connecting on all four shots from the line was a massive weight off the shoulders of Bueme (18 points) who had the chance to give her team the lead when she went to the foul line with 1:14 to play and the game tied at 47-47. But she missed both shots.

“Definitely nerve-wracking,” Bueme said with a smile after the game. “I just kept saying to myself just please go in! Please go in! I was looking at (teammate Imani Dockery) and she knew that I had it. It definitely just simmered me down.”

A Lady Vikings comeback was the last thing anyone expected as a 12-1 run by Nardin to open the game seemed to have taken the life out of Nichols. But as it turned out that cushy lead was the worst thing that could have happened to the Gators as they lost focus and played undisciplined ball.

They telegraphed their passes, lost the battle of the boards and didn’t pay the price to get the loose balls.

The Vikings proved the saying true that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. “I think everyone worked as a team,” Dockery said. “We all told each other we could do it. Just relax. We got it. Don’t push to do it. Don’t go through the motions…Just do it.”

For Gators head coach Kendra Brim, who played at Nardin, the most frustrating thing wasn’t so much that the Vikings were repeatedly beating her team down the court and burning them with the same backdoor cutter to the hoop. It was the fact that the coaching staff continuously pointed out the facets of the games their girls were getting beat at, but they didn’t respond to the challenge of stepping up and doing what they had to do to right the ship.

After a lengthy post game team meeting Brim emerged from the locker room and explained the most aggravating thing about the loss is that she knows her girls are capable of a much better showing.

“We learned a lesson,” Brim said. “Do the small things and not to let a team linger.”

Alex Hartnett, who led Nardin with 17 points, appeared to have given her team some breathing room when she completed a three-point play that gave Nardin a 47-43 lead with 1:59 left to play. But Imani Dockery (14 points) answered the call as she sank back-to-back shots in the paint to tie the game with 1:31 left to play.

It was a huge confidence boost for the Vikings who have struggled through a four game losing streak to open the season.

“Definitely getting a win under our belt is good, especially our first league game,” said Bueme. “Tomorrow is going to be a good day and we’re just going to keep practicing and going hard. It just proves you can’t ever give up because anything is possible.”

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