Alex Cliff was determined not to let her team lose.
The Roncalli junior, normally a force inside, made maybe the biggest play of the game outside her comfort zone. Trailing 21-19 right before halftime, Cliff drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Jets a one point lead against host Reedsville on Friday in an Olympian Conference clash.
The play sparked Roncalli and gave them life heading into the break before eventually pulling out the 52-44 overtime victory.
“This was just a great girls high school basketball game.,” Roncalli head coach Ned Jacquart saud. “I have a lot of respect for Reedsville, they’ve got a really good team. They’ve got great balance, an excellent coach. It was just a battle where our kids found a way to more a few more plays at the end.”
After falling behind early 8-5, the Panthers (7-3, 6-2 OC) used a 14-3 run at the end of the first and to start the second quarter to build a 19-11 advantage with 6:06 remaining in the half.
With Jacquart screaming for defense on the sideline, his charges responded to enter halftime on a 11-2 run after Cliff made an acrobatic 3 following an offensive breakdown by the Jets (10-2, 7-1).
“I just knew time was running down,” Cliff said of her thoughts before taking the shot. “I knew I had to get a shot off so I just trusted my shot and it went in.”
“It was a heck of a play,” Jacquart said. “It wasn’t how we drew it up but Alex is a good player, she can score inside and out. She had a big game tonight.”
Cliff finished with a game-high 24 points while teammate Andrea Vaca joined her in double digits with 11.
While the first half was dominated by long runs by both sides, the second turned into a back-and-forth affair.
There were five lead changes in the third quarter before being tied with 22.7 seconds left to enter the final frame level at 34-34.
Olivia Dietrich hit her third 3-pointer of the contest to open the fourth quarter for Reedsville to take a 37-34 lead. Dietrich finished with 12 points while teammate Brenna Kiekhaefer led the Panthers with 13.
The rest of the quarter saw Roncalli take the lead with 1:43 remaining and held a 43-40 advantage before Kiekhaefer converted an and-one with 10.5 seconds remaining to force overtime.
Seemingly out of gas, Reedsville fell behind early in the extra period and Roncalli iced the game from the free-throw line down the stretch.
“I’m disappointed,” Reedsville head coach Paul Ourada said of the outcome. “Cliff is real tough in the post. We didn’t do the little things tonight. We didn’t box out, attack the basket like we normally do. (Cliff) is a beast in the post. We’re better than we played, I’m just disappointed.”
Free throws played a pivotal part on the contest according to both coaches with the Jets converting 19-of-27 compared to just 6-of-10 for the Panthers.
After both sides came back on the court following the game, Jacquart was happy with how his team fought while Ourada was left thinking about what might have been.
“We knocked down out free throws and that’s not something we’ve been great at all year,” Jacquart said. “It was nice to be able to knock down free throws and finish it off.”
“They made 19 free throws, we made 6,” Ourada said. “That’s the difference in the game.”
The two teams entered the night tied with Wrightstown atop the conference but now the Jets and Tigers are left alone at 7-1 in conference play.
RONCALLI — Clark 4, Winans 2, Vaca 11, Severin 7, Cliff 24, Patek 4; 3 PT: Severin 1, Cliff 1, Patek 1; FT: 19-27; F: 14
REEDSVILLE — Dietrich 12, Roffers 4, Schmidt 4, Grimm 7, Kiekhaefer 13; 3 PT: Dietrich 3, Roffers 1; FT: 6-10; F: 21
Roncalli…9 13 12 9 9 — 52
Reedsville…13 8 13 9 1 — 44