GA needs overtime to escape Lions

Sports January 30, 2012 0 Comments

by Tom Utescher

GA’s Jaryn Garner (with ball) wins a rebound from SCH’s Elana Roadcloud (left), while the Lions’ Julia Schumacher (right) tries to box out the much larger Kiernan McCloskey (#11) of the Patriots. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

In decades of frustration in basketball bouts against Germantown Academy, Springside School had never gone into overtime against the Patriots. Last Friday afternoon, the rechristened “Springside Chestnut Hill Academy” almost beat host GA in regulation play, but with less than 10 seconds remaining the Patriots received a lifesaving lay-up from senior guard Jaryn Garner to force an OT period.

The four-minute tiebreaker began with a 33-33 count, and Germantown posted the first seven points of the extra session in order to prevail, 40-35. They remained unbeaten in the Girls Inter-Ac League, now 8-0, while raising their overall record to 16-6. The SCH Lions slipped to 7-13 on the season and fell to 3-5 in the Inter-Ac, despite holding a second-half lead in every league game they’ve played.

Junior forward Kiernan McCloskey led the Patriots with a double-double performance that encompassed 20 points, 10 rebounds, and four steals, while Garner, a University of Virginia signee, recorded 10 points and eight boards, along with six assists and five steals. Junior guard Fran Sweeney scored two of her four points during the overtime stint, and Dempsey Cooper, Natalie Toner, and Angela Upright added two points apiece for the winners.

Upright, a 6’2” junior, had only recently begun to see action for GA, having missed the first two months of the season while in the final stages of knee surgery rehabilitation. For SCH, it was the first game back for junior guard Gianna Pownall, who’d suffered a concussion in an on-court collision during the first game against GA, back on January 3. She totaled 11 points last Friday, scoring the Lions’ only points in the OT. The top scorer for the visitors was senior forward Elana Roadcloud, who played well all game long and split her 12 points evenly between the first and second halves. Classmate Sydni Epps collected her six points by hitting three-pointers in the third and fourth quarters, and two other seniors, Michelle Boggs and Alexis Giovinazzo, contributed three points each for the Lions.

Germantown played good interior defense against the 6’1” Boggs, who did not score a field goal last Friday after notching 11 points the first time the two teams met.

At the beginning of January, the Lions had proved to themselves that they could play with the Patriots, at least for awhile. An energetic press helped them attain a 21-10 lead in the first quarter, but their stamina waned and GA was back within three at the half. GA went on to win, 51-39, with the Lions’ performance becoming fragmented when the Patriots pressured them.

After last week’s rematch, first-year SCH coach Steve Purcell said, “We didn’t get rattled this time. I thought we played a disciplined game, especially on defense, holding them to 10 points in the second half.

Gianna played a good game in her first game back, and Jules [sophomore point guard Julia Schumacher] played great. Sydni had one of her better games, playing under control and hitting a couple of big three’s.”

Following a 10-10 standoff in the first quarter, Giovinazzo lofted a three-pointer from the left wing. McCloskey hit a short turnaround jumper for the Pats, but then a baseline shot from Roadcloud and two free throws by Boggs gave Springside a 17-12 lead with five minutes to go in the half.

The Lions would not score again before the intermission. Cooper started an 11-O GA spree with a drive down the lane, and McCloskey ended it with two transition field goals in the last 40 seconds, sending her ballclub into the locker room with a 23-17 profit.

At this point in some other tight games, Springside Chestnut Hill was unable to regroup and rally, but not this time. The visitors began with a Roadcloud lay-up and a trey by Epps, then Roadcloud scored in transition off a pass from junior Maddi Hinchey. Germantown missed a pair of free throws, but SCH’s Pownall didn’t miss on a drive at the other end, putting the Lions up 26-23 with 1:07 to go in the third period.

After numerous missed shots of every variety by a number of players, GA finally scored its first points of the second half on a 12-footer by McCloskey. SCH got those points back on a pair of free throws by Roadcloud, winning round three 11-2 and starting the fourth with a 28-25 edge.

Coming out after halftime, the Lions had hustled back on defense to limit GA’s transition offense, and they formed a physically tough barrier when the Patriots were in their offensive set.

“The shots weren’t falling,” said Germantown’s Garner. “Springside’s a good physical team and they ran with us. It was frustrating because we couldn’t get to the line and we couldn’t make our lay-ups and jump shots.”

Both sides of the scoreboard moved slowly in the fourth quarter, which opened with McCloskey and SCH’s Pownall trading baskets. The GA junior then went coast-to-coast to get her squad within a point of the lead, 30-29, with 3:13 remaining. At the middle of the period, the visitors’ Roadcloud hit the floor hard, and physical play continued as McCloskey took a shot to the mouth with 1:35 to go. She had to leave the court when play was stopped, and Sweeney came in to take the free throws that had been awarded, making them both.

“After we got behind, I think the difference for us was valuing the ball and holding onto it better,” Garner explained.

Still, the Lions would hold the lead one last time, with Epps lobbing in a three-pointer from the left wing with 1:13 to go, making it 33-31. GA committed back-to-back fouls – just its second and third of the half – and then the Patriots managed to tie up the ball. The possession arrow favored SCH, but inbounds pressure by Germantown produced a five-second call against the Lions on the sideline. GA called time out with 35 seconds on the clock.

The Patriots forced up an errant baseline shot but got the ball back, and Garner drove towards the hoop. She pulled up to hit a shot that was more of a baby jumper than a true lay-up, and with 9.4 seconds left the game was tied. Coming back down the floor, the Lions bobbled the ball at midcourt and couldn’t get off a sound shot.

“They made the basket they needed to tie it,” SCH’s Purcell said. “She [Garner] made a great play; that’s why she’s going to UVA.”

Each side missed several shots at the start of the four-minute overtime, but with 2:18 left McCloskey made a lay-up that pushed the Pats ahead for keeps.

“We had some decent looks, but we didn’t make shots,” commented Purcell. They got up and then we had to foul, and they made their free throws.”

GA held the ball out at the top of the offense, and more time went off the clock as the Lions had to go from four team fouls up to the seven needed to force the one-and-one. Garner had gone one-for-six at the line during regulation play, but with 36.3 on the overtime ticker she stepped up for her most important free throws of the night, converting the one-and-one to spread the margin to four points.

“The free throws weren’t there earlier,” she admitted. “I had hurt my wrist awhile back and this was the first game I didn’t tape it, so it felt a little different. In overtime I just focused and told myself I’ve got to make these for my team. I willed them in.”

The senior followed up with a key defensive play, going aloft to steal an airborne inbounds pass by SCH. A foul on GA’s Sweeney ensued, yielding two more points from the line with 32 seconds left. At the far end the Lions missed a three-point attempt, with Pownall grabbing the rebound out of the air but landing with one foot over the baseline.

Garner hit the front end of a one-and-one with 15 seconds left to round out GA’s total for the night. The Lions finally scored their first points of the overtime on a lay-up by Pownall, but there were only seven seconds left to play.

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