top of page

Walnut Grove Shuts Down Claremont Cinderella Story in OT

If you wanted a true nail biting performance, one just needed to watch Claremont and Walnut Grove butt heads on the court in their quarterfinal matchup. The Walnut Grove Gators and the Claremont Spartans are ones to impress on and off the court.

With a spectacular first quarter, both teams started the second quarter strong, with the Gators barely holding onto the lead 19-18 over Claremont. The Spartans, Adia Pye (#11, Grade 12) attacks getting repetitive rebounds alongside points to take the lead from the Gators once more; Claremont were now up 29-27, but only for a few minutes before Walnut Grover countered and tied it once again 29-29. However, the Gators had no time to feel relieved when the Spartans, with a few short maneuvers by Carys Clarke (#23, Grade 10), had us head to halftime with the Spartans with the 36-31 lead over the Gators.

Skipping over to the fourth quarter, the Spartans are on a roll, keeping their lead going into the quarter. However, Gators, Kiera Pemberton (#9, Grade 12) was not done yet. Pemberton rolled with the punches, drawing fouls at the most opportune times, managing to reduce the Spartans lead to 3-points half way through the quarter.

The Spartans desperately try to eat up time, and to keep their small lead intact, leading up to a gut wrenching last few minutes. Pemberton manages to get that last minute shot for the tie, sending them to overtime. Overtime is just when the Gators start to show why they’re the top ranked team at the tournament. Pemberton scores 4-points to get Gators the lead early into OT, with plenty of missed opportunities, the Spartans could not find the net. The Walnut Grove Gators clinched their spot in the Semi-Finals, winning 79-72.

The Gators’ win was nothing short of a miracle. “I thought we were in big trouble. [the Spartans] were so physical. They owned the boards all game. They made it very difficult for us. They were very good. They were skilled and they were tough,” said Coach Darren Rowell in the last minutes of the game, “Really late in the fourth quarter, there was that little moment where it sort of turned”, Coach Rowell continued. The Gators toward the end never backed down from the fight even when down in those last seconds still, “Honestly, we all wanna win. It’s our goal to win, and to get through these tough games, and play hard together”, Kiera Pemberton said that kept the team pulling in the same direction. Coach Rowell, “I’m really impressed, the composure they showed. They kept battling and it looked like we were down and out and they sort of kept finding and kept believing. It’s nice where you get rewarded for your composure and your belief in yourself.”

The Gators’ had immense support from their family and friends in the stands. Pemberton could not have been more excited for the next phase in the Provincials and as a team all she wishes is to, “Play with all your heart, try your best, no matter the outcome”.

bottom of page