By Dylan Butler
Following a back injury that sidelined her for much of the regular season, Kim Leotaud thought basketball was behind her.
But luckily for the Van Buren varsity girls’ basketball team, she returned to the fold and contributed in a big way Thursday, scoring the game-winning layup with three seconds left to lift Van Buren to a 54-52 win at John Bowne in a first-round PSAL ‘B’ playoff game.
The basket capped a wild final 30 seconds, which saw John Bowne rally from a seven-point deficit to tie the game on a driving layup by Tacheya Brown with 13 seconds left.
In the mayhem that followed, the John Bowne scorekeeper forgot to stop the clock following the basket and the referees called a timeout to reset the clock.
The Wildcat players were still celebrating the game-tying shot when the referee handed the ball to Jeneva Kelly, who dished to Leotaud. She raced past several stunned Bowne players en route to the game-winning layup.
“I believe we caught them off guard,” said Van Buren coach Mike McClain, whose team lost to Bowne by 18 in an early-season non-league game. “They celebrated and we threw the ball in and scored the layup.”
“The way we lost at the end was a horror show,” said Bowne coach Bruce Bitterman, whose team dropped to 18-5. “But we had two terrible weeks of practice, so I saw it coming.”
Van Buren (18-7) was led by Kelly and center Delise Johnson, who scored 12 points apiece. The VeeBees take on Park West in the second round Feb. 26.
Newtown 48, Baruch College HS 45 (OT). After burying both ends of a one-and-one with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime, Ally Zarate nailed two more free throws with five seconds remaining in overtime to clinch the first-round win for Newtown (18-7). Maria Loor added 23 points for the Pioneers, who play at defending champion Bronx Leadership in the second round Feb. 26 at 4 p.m.
Bayside 98, Graphic Arts 45. Gayle Silverstein scored 22 points, Shakia Woods had 14 and Leyla Sak and Allie Falco added 13 points apiece for Bayside (21-4) in a first-round playoff game. The Commodores face Beach Channel Feb. 25 in the second round.
Forest Hills 50, Chelsea 47. Jackie Butler had 13 points and 7 assists and scored a driving layup and the ensuing foul shot in the final 30 seconds for Forest Hills (14-2). Katie Gilbert had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Rangers, who take on Grand Street Campus in the second round Feb. 25.
Grady 64, Richmond Hill 39. Sherrel Lawson scored a game-high 30 points and dished out 10 assists and Tyniqua Spellman added 13 points for Grady, which takes on either Humanities or Gompers in the second round Feb. 25.
Grand Street Campus 57, Edison 29. Monet Johnson had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists and Kenya Kirkland added 11 points and 9 assists for Grand Street Campus (23-3).
Beach Channel 73, Wingate 48. Katreem Palmer exploded for a game-high 38 points, Chaquit Ivory added 13 points and 11 assists and Gina Giles scored 12 for Beach Channel.
PSAL A playoffs
Cardozo 51, Walton 48 (OT). Marissa Flagg had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals and Britni Bolden added 12 points and 7 boards before fouling out in the third quarter for No. 11 Cardozo (17-6), which takes on No. 6 Lincoln in the second round Feb. 26 at 4 p.m. at the College of Staten Island. No. 22 Walton (11-15) was led by Janay Perkins, who had 11 points and 16 rebounds, Pamela Graddick, who added 9 points and 8 rebounds and Shermane Farrior, who scored 15 points.
Manhattan Center 56, Townsend Harris 47. Andi Strauss scored 25 points, Katie Driscoll had 10 points and Shanay Freeman grabbed 14 rebounds for No. 20 Townsend Harris. No. 13 Manhattan Center advances to play fourth-seeded Midwood at the College of Staten Island Feb. 24 at 6 p.m.
August Martin 77, Truman 22. Nicole Michael scored 18 points, Monique Jenkins had 15, Vennesa Ross netted 12 and Tiana Gilliam added 12 for No. 7 August Martin (20-4), which faces 10th-seeded JFK at Lehman College Feb. 27 at 4 p.m.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 143.