For the second game in a row, the Penns Valley girls’ basketball team fell into a fast 10-point hole.
And for the second game in a row, the Lady Rams pulled off the comeback.
“We pulled that game out of the loss column and put it over into the win column tonight,” Penns Valley coach Karen McCaffrey said after her team beat Southern Huntingdon 54-46 Thursday. “As badly as we were playing in the first half, we never think that we are out of it. I always know that our runs are coming, but I wish we wouldn’t have waited until the fourth quarter.”
The Lady Rams (15-7) used a 10-0 run in the final period to lock up a victory in their final tune-up before hosting Ligonier Valley in the District 6 playoffs on Tuesday.
“It’s a great way to go into the playoffs,” said guard Emma Butler, who netted a game-high 18 points. “It gives us an opportunity and we’re excited.”
Hannah Montminy provided a spark in the fourth quarter, when she scored eight of her 11 points. Jordan Andrus pulled down eight rebounds and seven each were grabbed by Isabella Culver and Paige Kubalak.
Maddy Dell’s 13 points and Larissa Leonard’s 11 paced the Lady Rockets (12-10).
Southern Huntingdon shot out to a 10-0 lead to open the game — Lewisburg did the same to Penns Valley on Tuesday — and never lost that lead into the fourth quarter.
“The first half was rough and the defense was a little slacking in the beginning,” Butler said. “We knew we had to win this one. We came out in the second half and we were ready to play.”
With three Lady Rocket players saddled with four fouls by early in the fourth, Penns Valley turned up the pressure.
“We wanted to pick up the speed,” McCaffrey said. “They were in foul trouble, they weren’t going to be able stop us penetrating, so every time we had it we were trying to go to the hoop.”
With the margin still six points with 5:46 left in the final frame, the Lady Rams finally got the burst they needed. It started with a pair of Butler free throws, then a drive by Montminy with a scoop layup. A few seconds later after a missed Rocket shot that sent a long rebound to Butler at the foul line, she spotted the speedy Culver racing the other way, hitting the sophomore in stride for a layup to tie the game at 41-41.
“Emma made a beautiful pass over the top to Isabella,” McCaffrey said. “She just finished it. When we run we’re at our best. That’s our game.”
Another pair of Butler foul shots and a Culver steal that turned into a layup gave Penns Valley a 45-41 lead, and it was never lost.
Southern Huntingdon continued to miss shots, sinking just 3 of 10 attempts in the fourth quarter, and Penns Valley padded the lead with a couple more layups and an 11 for 12 showing from the foul line in the final frame.
“Everything that we asked them to do at halftime,” McCaffrey said, “they came out and did.”
Despite missing two starters from early in the season to major injuries, and another starter slowed by illness but still playing Thursday, the Lady Rams figured out a way to win.
“The younger kids, the sophomore starters, have been amazing,” McCaffrey said. “We have kids coming off the bench and helping us.”