Audrey Ramsey struggled in Boca Raton’s state semifinal win Friday, but she knew she had to win the game for the Bobcats on Saturday. Her coach told her so.
“Earlier today,” coach Nhu Nguyen said, “I grabbed her to the side and whispered in her ear and said, ‘Audrey, we’re going to need you to win this game.’ ”
Ramsey did what Nguyen wanted and more. With 1.5 seconds remaining Saturday, Ramsey took an inbound pass from senior Grace Marko and sank a 3-pointer that won the Bobcats the Class 9A state championship, 45-42 over Miami-Ferguson, sending her team into a delirious celebration at the Lakeland Center.
The state title was the Bobcats first in school history.
“I was pretty confident it was going in,” Ramsey said.
Added teammates Marko and Rachel Levy: “She’s always confident.”
Ramsey was the second option for the Bobcats on the inbound pass. Marko first looked for Levy, a 6-foot-3 forward, under the basket to try to get the easy, game-winning layup. With Levy covered, Marko tossed the ball to a wide-open Ramsey beyond the 3-point line.
“I looked up and I started celebrating before it went through the hoop because I just saw that shot was dead on,” Marko said. “I literally just sprinted away and it swished behind me.”
Ramsey’s game-winning shot ended a game that seemed destined for overtime. Neither the Bobcats nor the Falcons could get much of an advantage in the game.
Boca Raton stifled Ferguson to start, then the Falcons went on a 9-0 run to take the lead. Then the Bobcats started the second quarter cold, and the Falcons took a seven-point lead. But Boca Raton pulled ahead at the end of the first half to go to the locker room up 25-24.
“At halftime, Grace Marko goes, ‘Coach, this is going to be a close game. We need you to stay calm for us,’ ” Nguyen said. “Because sometimes I can get a little excited, and it can get them a little excited.”
The same story played out in the second half. Boca Raton never had more than a four-point lead, and the Bobcats trailed by two with less than two minutes on the clock. Ramsey’s basket tied the game with 49 seconds remaining
The victory ends Levy and Marko’s storied Boca Raton career. The pair, who have been on the Bobcats’ roster since they were freshmen in 2013, made the state’s Final Four in each of the past three seasons, losing in the state semifinals as sophomores and in the state title game as juniors.
“Finally got the gold,” Levy said.
Added Marko: “Losing was not an option.”