By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON – The excitement in Julianna Yingst’s face was priceless – a grin from ear to ear as she sprinted from under the basket to mid court only to be mobbed by her teammates after making a last second shot against Tri-County North on Thursday.
No, it wasn’t a game-winner or a record-breaking shot by Yingst as it was her only two points of the night in a convincing 75-14 win for the Lady Buccs.
It was a night where Sammi Whiteman scored 27 points for the Lady Buccs and Brooke Gostomsky added 19.
What is was, was a shot that epitomizes what high school athletics is all about – competition, passion, perseverance and a never-quit attitude.
You see, Julianna Yingst is a three-sport athlete at Covington, excelling as a runner in cross country and track. She has been in the Covington basketball program since grade school as a role player who comes off the bench when the game is pretty much decided.
A lot of kids in her basketball shoes would have – and have – quit and moved on to other interests long ago, but not Julianna Yingst. She has stuck it out because she loves the game, loves her teammates and relishes the opportunity to shine – to hear here her name and the cheers from the crowd.
Yingst experienced that sensation on Thursday as she entered the game to a standing ovation with 2:34 left in the game and Covington leading 69-22.
In typical Yingst fashion, she hustled at both ends of the floor – took a shot from behind the arc with about 1:30 left – only to see it bounce off the back of the rim. She battled under the glass on one possession to pull down an offensive rebound and unselfishly kicked it out to a teammate.
But as the clocked ticked down, the Buccaneer faithful became more and more restless as they urged the girls on the floor to get Yingst the ball.
Finally, with seven seconds left Arianna Richards pulled down a rebound, pushed the ball up the floor and found Yingst streaking down the floor in front of the home stands. The pass hit Yingst in stride and the Lady Bucc senior did the rest by driving by two Tri-County North defenders to the basket for a layup as the buzzer sounded.
As the ball bounced off the glass and through the net, the entire Covington crowed nearly blew the roof off the gym in celebration – giving Yingst the much-deserved ovation she relishes as announcer Glen Hollopeter shouted her name over the loud speaker – “Julianna Yingst with the basket”.
“It was awesome,” said Yingst nearly an hour after the game, but still with a huge grin from ear-to-ear on her face. “Having my teammates run out on the floor and hug me, that was really nice.”
Through the final 2:34 of the game, Yingst was keeping one eye on the clock, hoping for a chance to shine.
“I was the only one on the team who didn’t score and I was hoping to get another chance after I missed my first shot,” she explained. “I saw Arianna get the ball, so I started running to the other end hoping she would see me and get me the ball. When I got the ball all I could think about was getting to the basket. It happened so fast.”
It all happened in a matter of a few seconds, but in those few second all eyes were on her, the cheers were for her – and it was all to honor Julianna Yingst for all of those years she put the team before herself.
And, those few seconds will be remembered by Julianna Yingst for the rest of her life.