YORKTOWN – Scoring was clearly the priority for JoJo Janavey.
Breathing was secondary.
The sophomore attackman picked up a rebound in traffic, quickly unloaded a shot and was leveled even before the ball splashed into the net.
“I don’t even know who took that shot, but the goalie made another great save,” Janavey said. “I was able to pick up the ball and shoot it. They hit me pretty hard. I got the wind knocked out of me. I heard the crowd yell, but I was on the ground so I didn’t see it go in.”
The goal came with 4:22 remaining Wednesday and proved to be the difference for Lakeland/Panas in a wild 8-7 win over Shenendehowa in an NYSPHSAA Class A regional semifinal.
It was the fifth of the game for Janavey.
The Rebels were unable to rest on the 8-6 cushion and had to play inspired defense the rest of the way to hold off a comeback attempt. Dakota Rainville was able to make it a one-possession game with 2:53 to go, but the Plainsmen were unable to force overtime.
A good look sailed wide and Lakeland/Panas won possession with 20 seconds to go because Griffin Shiland happened to be locking off the player who was providing backup.
It was a stroke of good fortune.
“We told our kids, once you get to the quarterfinals or semifinals of sectionals, every team you play is good,” Rebels coach Jim Lindsay said. “They’re in that game for a reason. They’re either playing really well or they’ve been good the whole year. We went up and watched Shen play Niskayuna and they were phenomenal so we knew we were going to have our hands full down here. They had three kids who single-handedly beat Niskayuna and we knew they were going to be hard to deal with. Our guys just find a way to win.”
Shenendehowa won only three faceoffs against newly minted All-American Nick Vazquez, but was always within range.
Lakeland/Panas went into the break with a 5-4 edge, but Matt Stucchi ended a long scoring drought seven minutes into the second half to even the score. Kevin Prunty got the Rebels back on top a short time later.
It was 7-5 after Lakeland/Panas goalie Kevin Dyckman came up with a big save. Sean Maker pushed the ball in transition and Janavey finished.
The offense was just as good in settled situations as it was in transition.
“Usually it’s just fast breaks for us, but our offense worked very hard tonight, dodging, beating our defenders and hitting the open man,” Makar said.
Owen Putman got the Plainsmen within 7-6 on a bouncer from the perimeter before the level of drama got amped up down the stretch.
The Rebels play on Saturday at Dietz Stadium against Section 9 winner Valley Central at 6 p.m.
Player of the game: It was the biggest game of a breakout season for Janavey, who is officially a threat with a nose for the ball.
Turning point: Pick one. There were so many and L/P had the right answer each time Shen got a goal. Joe Cortese and Drew Thompson also legged off a lot of clock in the final minutes.
Stat line: Prunty finished with a goal and an assist for Lakeland/Panas, surpassing 200 career points. Vazquez went 16-3 on faceoffs. Makar finished with two goals and three assists. … Putman had three goals for the Plainsmen. Stucchi netted a pair and Eric Mankatadze had one goal and two assists.
Quotable: “It could’ve gone either way, that game,” Lindsay said. “We were lucky. It doesn’t get old. You don’t get used to the stress. It will take me a while to go to bed tonight, but we get to play for another couple of days.”