With 9.1 seconds left in regulation and the game tied 47-47, Tuesday's thriller was in St. Paul Christian School Warriors’ Monica Giger's capable hands.
At stake for Warriors girls' basketball team - the two-time Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam champions - was their undefeated record and splitting the season series with the Okkodo High School Bulldogs.
After briefly bobbling the inbounds pass from Janniliese Quintanilla, Giger recovered inside the paint. After bouncing around the cylinder, and with the buzzer sounding, Giger’s prayer was answered.
“I knew I had to catch and shoot,” said Giger, after Tuesday night’s thriller on the Bulldogs’ home court in Dededo. “I just prayed that it would go in.”
The Warriors, loaded with talent, were led by Quintanilla with 15 points, Kirsten Silva with 14 points, and Giger’s 11 points.
The Bulldogs, with just their second loss of the season, both to St. Paul, here hoping for the upset. But, despite tremendous all-island performances from Angeli Dacanay and Vanezza Gustilo, the Bulldogs Senior Night ended on a sour note.
In a physical battle in the paint, Giger’s leadership down the stretch and a team loaded with championship experience secured the win. Giger, in the final period, scored 5 points, ripped down big rebounds, and blocked two shots.
“Coach talked to us this week about leadership, stepping up, and leading the other girls.”
In a game where no need was safe, the Warriors, with a 6-0 run, closed out the first half. With two 3-pointers and a 12-point second-quarter performance from Silva, St. Paul led by five points at the intermission.
In the third quarter, behind back-to-back buckets from Quintanilla, the Warriors increased their lead.
But Dacanay, who finished with a game-high 17 points, controlled the middle and was at her best. With the Warriors' effort focused on the Bulldogs’ center, Erin Moldez lit up the scoreboard. Beating the buzzer and shrinking the gap to 36-33, Moldez's bucket brought the fans to their feet.
In the final 8 minutes, a Gustilo basket pulled Okkodo within 1 point, 41-40.
Knotted at 45, a bucket from Quintanilla gave the Warriors a 2-point lead.
Dacanay, with 2 minutes remaining, drained a baseline jump shot.
For nearly 2 minutes, with neither team able to score, the game came down to Giger. With Okkodo pressuring Silva and Quintanilla on the wings, Quintanilla found Giger open under the basket.
"Everyone contributed today,” Silva said. “It wasn’t one girl. We all had our moments,”