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DIVISION I GIRLS: Childress wills Gaels to state final

On paper, it was a simple driving layup.

In reality, it might have capped the single best possession of the year for Bishop Gorman’s girls basketball team.

Tonishia Childress’ right-side layup with 1:41 to play Thursday capped a 90-second possession and helped the Gaels move into the Division I state final with a 51-48 win over Liberty at Orleans Arena.

Gorman (21-9) will face Reno (26-3) in the final at 6 p.m. Friday.

“Coach just made sure to tell me to have the ball in my hands and make sure I took care of it,” Childress said. “We were able to spread it, move the ball around and get an open shot.”

Childress, fellow senior April Rivers and freshman Megan Jacobs handled the ball effectively after Liberty’s Paris Strawther hit a jumper with 3:11 to go to pull the Patriots within 45-44.

“You want that in your seniors’ hands,” Gorman coach Sheryl Krmpotich said. “(Childress) just took over the game.”

Finally, Childress saw just enough of an opening and raced inside the right block for a layup.

“She’s our engine. She’s our heartbeat,” Krmpotich said. “She does everything. You can double her. You can put her in the paint. She’s still going to find a way.”

After a missed Liberty free throw, Childress began weaving through the Patriots’ defense before finally being fouled with 54.8 seconds left.

She connected on both free throws to up the margin to 49-44.

Sydney Clark’s drive into the paint closed the gap to three, but Rivers drained two free throws with 32.6 seconds left, and Gorman didn’t allow Liberty (27-7) a good look until a layup at the buzzer.

“It’s a game of a runs, and their senior leadership kind of took over,” Liberty coach Rich Santigate said. “They made their run. We just ran out of time to make a run.”

It capped a comeback by Gorman, which trailed 42-37 with 4:47 to go before scoring the next eight points.

“We were just flat across the board, except for (Childress),” Krmpotich said. “Finally when we changed up some defensive stuff, we got some things going. Our defense was our best offense.”

Childress finished with 23 points to lead Gorman, which returns to the state final for the first time since 2010.

“The last two years, it was hard,” Childress said. “I’m proud of these younger girls to be able to step up.”

Freshman Raychel Stanley had 11 points and 13 rebounds, and Rivers added 10 points for Gorman.

Clark had 16 points and Strawther 12 for Liberty, which beat Gorman in the 2011 Class 4A semifinals.

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