NORTON — Helaina Limas will never forget Wednesday or its accompanying date, Jan. 24, 2018. For that matter, she vows to know the correct date every day for the rest of her life.
With its star player forced to watch the final 10 minutes from the bench due to concussion protocol guidelines, the Cloverleaf girls basketball team left it all on the floor before falling 51-46 in double overtime to Norton in a wild and crazy Portage Trail Conference Metro Division game.
The Colts (13-2, 8-1), who fell a half-game behind the reigning champion Panthers (11-4, 9-1) in the Metro Division race, dropped their second straight overall, but that doesn’t begin to tell the story of a rough-and-tumble game that featured 66 turnovers (37 by Cloverleaf), five ties and 11 lead changes.
A team that only goes seven deep, the Colts also lost Maddie Boltz to what could be a serious wrist injury, meaning they relied on five players down the stretch.
“They played awesome,” Limas said of her teammates. “They gave it everything they had. I was so proud of them while I was cheering from the bench.”
It was how Limas, who had 31 points in Cloverleaf’s 69-56 victory in the teams’ first meeting, landed on the bench that was the big story in the hotly contested rematch.
After scoring seven points and assisting on two others to start the fourth period, the shooting guard twisted her left ankle while battling for a rebound — and committing her fourth foul — under Norton’s basket with 3:24 to go in regulation.
After being attended to for several minutes, she needed assistance from two others to get off the floor, only to return to action 27 seconds later.
Sixty-six seconds after that, Limas (11 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists) was done for the night. On what turned out to be the last of her many go-for-broke drives to the hoop, the senior was fouled with 1:51 left in the fourth and was laying face down just beyond the baseline when she put her hand to her head.
“I fell hard,” she said. “I was more trying to catch my breath and get my focus back.”
Averaging 23.2 points coming in, Limas eventually stepped to the line, but before she could take the first of two free throws, an official approached her. Limas said she was asked how many fingers the official had up, but since none were raised, she simply laughed.
Limas said she was then asked what the date was. Or at least that’s what she thought at the time, because in hindsight she realized she may have been asked what day it was.
“I said, ‘I don’t know what the date is,’” she said. “I’m a kid. I don’t pay attention to the date. I don’t write it on the top of my (school) papers. I genuinely didn’t know. Not because I have a concussion, but because I don’t pay attention to the date.
“But I’m never going to forget the date for the rest of my life.”
When Limas didn’t respond to the official’s satisfaction, he called his two partners over and she was removed from the game because they were concerned about a concussion.
Cloverleaf’s trainer then protested that Limas was OK. So did Norton’s, to the point where he was eventually removed from the premises (but not issued a technical foul).
According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s concussion protocol guidelines, the referees’ ruled correctly once they decided Limas had displayed possible signs of the injury. Once that is done, a medical doctor or trainer can’t clear Limas to return until she completes the concussion protocol process.
That and much more added up to what Cloverleaf power forward Lisa Wangler (11 points, 8 rebounds) described as a “hectic, definitely crazy, overwhelming” night.
With Limas sidelined, Cameron Tripp shot her free throws and made 1-of-2 to tie the game at 40.
Norton, which applied relentless full-court pressure almost the entire night, then held the ball from the 1:51 mark until 32.1 seconds were on the clock, when it called time.
The Panthers called another timeout with 5.6 seconds left, which was followed by a Cloverleaf timeout. The ball was finally inbounded, but the clock started prematurely, so 5.6 ticks were put back on the clock and Norton took another timeout before Logan Favor missed a 28-footer at the regulation buzzer.
Both teams had the lead in the first four-minute overtime, with the Panthers going up 44-43 with 30.9 seconds remaining on a hoop by Kelsey Hosey (13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists).
Wangler went to the line with 22.9 seconds remaining and air-balled her first attempt before nailing the second, sending things into a second OT.
Norton’s Jordan Bird, playing in her first game of the season after suffering an ACL injury, hit a 3-pointer that bounced off rim and through the net to put the Panthers up 49-46 with 1:22 to go.
Then Madison Burns grabbed a rebound and scored after Hosey missed the front end of a one-and-one to make it a five-point game with 43 seconds left.
This time, the Colts, who got 12 points and four boards from center Mckenna Jordan, five points and five rebounds from small forward Brianna Gallagher and six points from reserve Jenna Oliver, couldn’t rally.
“The game could have gone a lot of different ways,” Cloverleaf coach John Carmigiano said. “Unfortunately, the whole night came down to a lucky bounce on the rim (on Bird’s three).”
Relying on a 2-3 zone and then a stingy 2-2-1, the Colts played admirably without Limas, but they couldn’t help but wonder what might have been had she been on the floor over the final 10 minutes.
“They asked her what the date was and she didn’t know,” Wangler said. “That’s something I wouldn’t know on a regular basis.
“It was really hard, but I’m pretty proud of how we played without her. We fought as hard as we could.”
Norton 51, Cloverleaf 46 (2 OT)
CLOVERLEAF 8 15 3 14 4 2 — 46
NORTON 11 15 5 9 4 7 — 51
Cloverleaf — Brianna Gallagher 2-1-5, Lisa Wangler 4-3-11, Mckenna Jordan 4-4-12, Helaina Limas 5-1-11, Cameron Tripp 0-1-1, Jenna Oliver 1-4-6, Maddie Boltz 0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-14-46.
Norton — Kelsey Hosey 6-0-13, Abbey Murawski 5-0-10, Nicole Lester 1-0-2, Sarah Shearer 1-0-2, Bryana Housley 3-2-9, Logan Favor 2-2-6, Lauren Lucas 0-0-0, Paisonce Harper 0-1-1, Madison Burns 1-0-2, Jordan Bird 2-0-6. TOTALS: 21-5-51.
3-point goals — Bird 2, Hosey, Housley. Rebounds — Cloverleaf 23 (Wrangler 8), Norton 37 (Hosey, Murawski 9). Assists — Cloverleaf 7 (Limas 4), Norton 10 (Housley 4). Records — Cloverleaf (13-2, 8-1), Norton (11-4, 9-1). Junior varsity — Norton 38, Cloverleaf 20.