Ever since the teasing began, Jasmine Whitney has been looking for an opening to win her teammates’ respect as Paul VI’s backup point guard. Sometimes, the shy freshman says while giggling, the players will playfully tell her to go get them water or to carry their bags on road trips. The veteran-laden Panthers had another request on Tuesday night for Whitney: they needed her to win their game against No. 5 Good Counsel.
With the game tied and only time for one last shot, Whitney drove the lane and scooped in the game-winning layup as time expired to lift third-ranked Paul VI to a 57-55 victory over the Falcons in a WCAC thriller in Fairfax.
“I was a little nervous,” Whitney said. “I just saw the basket and went for it.”
The day started in disappointing fashion at Paul VI, as Coach Scott Allen learned that starting forward Kasey Curtis will miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. That, coupled with the broken thumb on starting point guard Lauren Cox (who is also expected to miss the rest of the regular season), left the Panthers needing all the help they could get entering Tuesday’s contest against Penn State-bound point guard Lindsey Spann and the Falcons (11-3, 4-2).
But Whitney showed no fear against the older and more mature Spann. She scored nine points and facilitated the Panthers’ offense with poise, setting up a pair of 13-point performances from Ariana Freeman and Marlena Tremba. Freeman’s steal off an inbound pass late in the fourth quarter helped Paul VI gain a 55-49 advantage with just under two minutes remaining, but the Falcons’ Amanda Fioravanti (27 points) scored six straight points in the final 80 seconds, including a putback layup that tied the score at 55 with 20 seconds remaining.
Allen elected not to call a timeout during the run, and told Whitney to bring the ball up and take the final shot. “I wanted Jasmine to have the ball,” Allen said. “It’s specifically designed for her to make a play out of it.”
With two Division I committed guards in Freeman (West Virginia) and Tremba (William & Mary) on standby, Whitney held the ball until the 10-second mark, then used a screen at the top of the key, beat a number of defenders in the lane and went up-and-under for the game-winner.
“It takes a lot of guts for a freshman point guard to make a play like that,” Allen said.
After the game, an assistant told Whitney, “Not bad for a freshman,” and the freshman said she doesn’t expect her “duties” to end with the buzzer-beater.
“I think [I won respect tonight]. I hope so,” Whitney said. “But I’m still just a freshman.”