By Hannah Brown, Student Reporter
Photo Credits: Sharai Thornton
“Defense wins games” was the quote of the night from Coach Kasey Hicks to the the women’s basketball team as they pulled off an impressive win over the Pioneers of Alfred State this past Thursday night at East Pennsboro High School.
The first half for the Lady Knights was rocky. Alfred State is a well-coached, very disciplined team. They knew exactly how to pick apart the Lady Knight’s defense, as well as sabotage their offense. The Pioneers controlled the offensive boards, as well as the tempo. The fastbreak offense, alaong with the physical play of Jahrae Patterson inside the paint, kept the Lady Knights in the game the first two quarters. After 20 minutes of play, the Lady Knights entered the locker room with a lopsided scoreboard, down 40 to 30 at the half.
During halftime, Hicks reinforced with her team the original game plan: control the rebounds, find the shooters and keep the intensity on defense.
The Lady Knights knew and recognized the grind it was going to take to get back into the flow of the the game, but getting back into it was exactly what the Lady Knights did.
Their energy began as Ja’Lynn Burton-Jones drove baseline early in the second half. Jones kicked out to Leana Borreli for a deep three about two feet from behind the arc. At this moment, the momentum quickly swung in favor of the home team. The Lady Knights outworked the Pioneers for the next 18 minutes of play, getting the score to only a four-point difference after being down by nearly 20 at one point.
With 20 seconds left in the game, Jones stoles the ball at half court with then a two-point conversion at the other end, making it 79-77 with the Pioneers still up as they had been the entire game. Kiera White committed a quick foul soon after the layup by Jones to get the Pioneers on the foul line and then eventually the ball back. Making both foul shots, the Lady Knights were down 77-81 with 15 seconds left on the game clock. Hicks called a time out to set up a play. Stepping out of the timeout, Borreli knocked down yet another long three with only six seconds left on the scoreboard, making the Lady Knights down by only one, 80-81.
The Pioneers inbound the ball under their own basket where White committed another smart foul to stop the clock and send the Pioneers back to the charity stroke. Skylar Shaulis, who had a very impressive game for the Pioneers, ending the night with 16 points, going 50% from three-point range, missed two big foul shots for the visiting team. Jones grabbed the rebound of the second shot with about 7 seconds left on the game clock, pushed the ball down the court, finished high off the glass while surrounded by three Pioneer players. As the ball made its way through the basket, a foul was called on the visiting team, giving Jones two more points and a trip to the foul line. This outstanding play put the Lady Knights up 82-81, the first lead the team had all game. Jones made the foul shot to add one more point for the Lady Knights, making it an 83-81 lead with only 2.3 seconds left. The Pioneers tried for one last Hail Mary, but the ball knocked around and rolled out of bounds as the clock expired.
This come-from-behind win was a valiant team effort. Four separate individuals ended the night in double figures for the home team. Jones lead both teams in points with 37, going 15-22 from field goal range. Patterson and Borelli both ended with 16 points for the night while Wislene Verna also chipped in 10 points. The unsung hero of the night was Michaela Sensenig, who ended with a career high. as well as a team high 10 rebounds in her 33 minutes of play.
The Lady Knights are now on a five-game winning streak. With only five games left in the regular season, three being home games, the team is looking to grab a seat in the USCAA National Tournament come next month.