Anissa Rivera waited until she saw the ball fall through the circle before shaking both fists and making two big tramps on the floor. His rebound had given the number 13 to National Christian ahead 30 seconds left, and the Eagles resisted national power Christ the King, 51-49, Friday night at Paul VI in Fairfax.
"I just put it back in. I was thinking," I have to do this, I have to, "Rivera said of his team's victory against a New York power plant at the opening of the Art Turner Memorial Showcase.
Then all that his team had to do was play defensively, and he produced one last stop – not even allowing a shot – to complete a result of the USA Today team had the 2nd place in his preseason ranking.
The Eagles (3-2) were defensive greedy all night, bothering the Royal's appreciation and keeping their single-digit deficit. The national Christian passed at six at the start of the fourth quarter before discovering his attack just in time.
"Entering this, we knew we just had to defend," guard Promise Cunningham said. "Just make the defense, and everything else will come."
Cunningham was warm in the stretch and gave a good look at the basket with a score of 49 and less than a minute remaining. But his blow came down from the edge and fell on Rivera, who was all alone in front of the basket. Calmly, he put the ball inside.
The defense of the Eagles has stalled a last time on the Royals' last trip, and Christ the King has left his season debut.
"The defense was huge tonight," coach Christian National Henry Anglin said. "They really defended, they have stepped up the challenge and this has allowed us to overcome some of our mistakes".
Rivera finished with 15 points and Cunningham had 18, including two big three points in the fourth quarter.
The victory helped the Eagles, who play in one of the most ambitious times in the area, to finish a two-game skid, with both defeats coming to the national powers: the defense of the WCAC champion St. John and the famous team of the North Carolina Southeast Raleigh.
Rivera said that this victory shows his team that he can compete at that level.
"We've just lost two ranked teams, so a victory over a nationally ranked team looks like the start of a good season," he said.