Schlarman's Gouard goes out on a win

Schlarman's Gouard goes out on a win

CHAMPAIGN — Sydney Gouard and her Schlarman girls' basketball teammates didn't know much about buzzer-beating victories over the last two seasons.

The repeat Class 1A state champions rarely lost and frequently won by double figures. Having contests come down to the wire was, more often than not, unheard of.

It's fitting, then, that Gouard ended her last prep hoops tilt with some heroics.

Gouard rebounded a miss by fellow Hilltopper Janiah Newell and tossed the rock through the rim as time expired, lifting Team Gold to a 45-43 victory over Team Black in Sunday's Parkland College/News-Gazette All-Star Game at Dodds Athletic Center.

"I was hoping Janiah was going to make the layup, but then it kind of bounced off," said Gouard, the bout's most valuable player. "I was like, 'Well, guess it's my time to shine,' and I put it back in and it just happened to go in."

The Oakland signee Gouard finished with 10 points to go with a game-high 14 from Newell as the two Schlarman standouts also led a stout defensive effort — something not always witnessed in such an exhibition.

"We were just trying to stay intense, and we were trying to come back into the game," said Gouard, referring to Gold's 24-14 halftime deficit. "Everybody was competitive. Nobody wanted to lose."

Salt Fork's Madison Kirby and Oakwood's Kylie Neuman chipped in seven and five points, respectively, as Gold's top four producers all hailed from the Vermilion Valley Conference.

St. Joseph-Ogden's Peyton Crowe keyed Black with 13 points, though she missed a pair of free throws with 11 seconds remaining and the game tied at 43.

That didn't seem to bother the future Parkland athlete.

"Going into it, it was like, yeah, we're just going to have fun," Crowe said. "If we lose, we lose. Whatever happens, it's for fun. But then it started getting pretty intense and competitive."

Sullivan's Esther Miller (seven points) and Tri-County's Kiersten Price-Wilson (six points) backed Crowe.

The latter connection was especially fun for Crowe, as she and Price-Wilson not only teamed up prior to high school, but also will do so for the Cobras later this year.

"It was a blast," Crowe siad. "Playing against all these other guys throughout the season and finally getting to play with them (Sunday), understanding their character and everything, was really fun."

Gouard felt similarly about lining up across the hardwood from St. Thomas More's NaKaya Hughes, familiar faces to one another throughout their careers.

That didn't mean they took it easy in their interactions, though. The best example: Gouard bodying Hughes to the deck on a late corner trap.

"We've been playing with each other since I don't know how long," Gouard said. "It was fun playing with her one last time, before we go our separate ways."