The Arcadia girls basketball team needed somebody, anybody to score some points late in the game on Wednesday night.
And who better to call on then the player referred to as ‘Clutch'?
The Titans went scoreless for the first seven minutes and 38 seconds of the fourth quarter but Gabby Evans hit 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch as Arcadia held on for a 41-37 victory over Queen Creek in the first round of the Division II state tournament.
The No. 14 seeded Titans advance to face No. 3 Seton in the second round on Friday.
"I just tried to block everything out as much as I could and stay in my routine (at the free throw line)," Evans said.
Evans said her parents nicknamed her ‘Clutch' because she always seemed to have the ball in her hand in crucial situations when playing for the Phoenix Phenoms on the club basketball circuit.
"Usually I make the last shot or the turning point shots," she said. "That's where it kind of came from."
Arcadia led 38-24 late in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs went on a 12-0 run and a bucket by Makaily Worthington cut the deficit to two points with 30 seconds remaining.
After an Arcadia turnover in the backcourt, Queen Creek had a chance to tie or take the lead with 24.9 seconds left, but Evans came up with a steal and was fouled. She made one free throw to push the lead to three points, and the Bulldogs turned the ball over again on their next possession. Evans then hit her two ensuing free throws to ice the win.
Arcadia had a comfortable lead for most of the game, but the Bulldogs refused to fold until the very end.
"I was getting nervous," Arcadia forward Kylie Herd said. "Anything can happen in close games."
Evans and Gianna Grumbein had nine points apiece to lead the Titans. Kelsey Jager had a game-high 13 points for Queen Creek.