It was a moment where time stopped, and generations collectively sighed in relief.
At the final buzzer, the coaches and bench stormed the floor, collapsed on one another and shed tears of joy.
Story continues below gallery
In the stands, a graduate from more than 50 years ago wiped his eyes behind fogged glasses while a girl in the student section jumped with glee.
For the first time in the 102 years of Indiana High School Athletic Association membership, the Crothersville High School Tigers took ownership of a sectional trophy.
On Saturday night, the Crothersville girls’ basketball won the Class A Sectional 61 title 72-69 against West Washington at Orleans High School.
The school joined the IHSAA in 1914, stayed until dropping out for one year in 1917, and then rejoining in 1918. The girls’ team has played in a sectional since 1975.
“You’re just numb,” Tigers coach Kevin Hensley said. “It hasn’t sunk in what we just accomplished for our school and community after all these years. I don’t really know how to act. It’s a great feeling, I’m just taking it in little by little.
“It’s just like the (Chicago) Cubs. It has been so long. You can’t really describe it. Maybe I will a week from now, or after church in the morning. I’m just happy for our school. It shows that we can do this.”
In the final 12.4 seconds of the game, the Senators — trailing the Tigers by three — had their chance to tie the game.
Senator Ryana Watson hoisted a jumper from the 3-point arc, but the shot went long and didn’t graze the rim. The ball bounced towards the baseline, with five ticks left, but Tiger sophomore Maddie Riley poked the ball back into the court.
Riley’s deflection found the hands of teammate Katrina Christian, who dribbled out the last three seconds at half court.
“This means so much to all of us,” Christian said. “We put our hearts in it. We left everything on the court.”
The Tigers and Senators put on a show in the championship bout.
Christian, a senior, scored 12 of the team’s first 14 points. The Tigers, who went on a 10-0 run from the 6:29 to 4:06-mark in the first quarter, took an early lead 14-4.
The Senators answered with a mini 5-0 run, and at the buzzer, Maddie Bowsman hit a half-court shot to narrow the deficit to 16-14 at the end of the first period.
Christian scored all but two of the Tigers’ points in the opening eight minutes, while Watson had half of the Senators’ scoring.
The Tigers spread the ball around in the second quarter, and stifled the Senators on the other end of the court.
Crothersville went on a 13-0 run behind two 3-pointers from sophomore Piper Hensley and a three from senior Kashmir Kelshaw to open the lead back up.
From 4:34 to 6.1 ticks on the clock, the Senators buckled-in on defense and started hitting their shots to close the Tigers’ lead to 33-27.
The Tigers, however, would have the final say in how the half was going to end as Christian weaved through the defense and got a layup to fall at the buzzer to put the Tigers in front 35-27 at halftime.
Out of the intermission, the Tigers turned the ball over three times in the first three minutes, and the Senators capitalized with six straight points.
A three from Kelshaw ended the Senators’ run, but the Tigers would change their offensive game plan from there.
The Tigers attacked the basket relentlessly, and as a result the Senators racked-up nine fouls in their man defense with 1:19 left in the third quarter.
“I told them that if they’re reaching and grabbing to take it to the hole,” coach Hensley said. “They had to foul, otherwise they would give up a layup. We told them to keep attacking the basket.”
Christian went six-for-eight from the line going into the fourth quarter, as the Tigers held a 50-45 lead.
The teams exchanged turnovers and baskets to begin the final eight minutes.
Hensley hit a 3-pointer, and got three of four free throws to fall, with the Tigers up 63-54 with 2:38 left.
The Senators’ Chelsea Carter-VanCleave converted an and-one on the ensuing possession and got another score after a basket from CHS junior Lacey Hall.
An inbound steal and score by Van-Cleave and fast break layup from Cora Miller cut the deficit to 65-63 with 1:31 left.
After split free throws from Christian, Miller got another basket to tie the game at 67-67 with 1:11 on the clock.
“He told us to keep taking to them,” Kelshaw said. “I was nervous, but I knew that we could do it. We just never gave up.”
Riley was fouled, but she hit both free throws with 53 seconds and Christian followed by going coast-to-coast for layup on a Senators miss.
Christian was fouled again at 29 seconds, but this time she made both free throws to put the Tigers up 71-69.
While Watson would get a layup to fall, Christian split free throws again with 12.4 seconds left to put the Tigers up three.
“I typically don’t get that nervous, but I could feel my legs shaking,” Christian said. “I was thinking about how I had to ice the game.”
The final defensive sequence then turned to history.
Christian led the Tigers with 32 points, Hensley scored 14, Hall added 11 and Kelshaw finished with nine.
Watson topped the Senators with 28 points, Van-Cleave had 13 and Miller 10.
“It means everything to us, us seniors are going out winners no matter what,” Crothersville senior Madison Reynolds said. “We’ve been fighting for four years and we’ve finally got it. It means everything.”
This Saturday the Tigers (19-8), who now boast the most wins by any team at Crothersville, girls or boys, will play in the Springs Valley Regional at noon.
They will play Class A No. 1 Wood Memorial (24-1), who won the Sectional 64 (Tecumseh) finals 59-42 against Northeast Dubois.
Should they emerge victorious, the Tigers will play the winner of South Central (18-7) and No. 2 Vincennes Rivet (22-3) in the regional championship at 8 p.m. that night.
Listed on the Class A Sectional 61 (Orleans) roster for the Crothersville girls basketball team:
Seniors: Katrina Christian, Kashmir Kelshaw, Madison Reynolds.
Juniors: Lacey Hall, Nikki Hickman, Kalynda Hoevener.
Sophomores: Piper Hensley, Maddie Riley.
Freshmen: Makayla Helt, Tori Henry, Rebekah Cook, Isabell Lewis.