Carly Mill hit the game's biggest shot. McKenzie Ruffing made the game's biggest block. All their Montoursville teammates took turns making big plays.
Together, they earned Montoursville's biggest win this season.
Mill owned the fourth quarter and hit a go-ahead 3-pointer, Ruffing blocked a potential game-winning 3-pointer as time expired and Montoursville edged visiting Lewisburg, 34-32 Wednesday in a showdown between District 4 Class AA and HAC-II title contenders.
The Warriors (9-2, 4-0) overcame an 11-point halftime deficit and a seven-point first-half performance while showing they belong among District 4's elite.
"We know we're a comeback team," said Ruffing, whose swarming defense was crucial. "We were positive we would come back."
"We came out weak and we knew Lewisburg was going to be a tough team, but at halftime when we were down we told each other to keep our heads up," Mill said. "We were saying, 'it's not over.' We're one that's going to fight back."
Montoursville trailed by as many as 13 points late in the second quarter and still trailed by 11 late in the third before closing on a quick 5-0 flurry and pulling within six entering the fourth. That run carried into the final quarter as Kirsten O'Malley's two free throws tied the game 25-25 with 4:37 remaining. Emily Conrad hit a 3-pointer in the corner, putting Lewisburg (6-3, 2-2) back in front but Mill soon erased that.
Mill (11 points, 3 steals) hit a foul shot then drilled a 3-pointer from near the top of the key and gave Montoursville its first lead, 29-28 with three minutes left. Mill scored eight straight Montoursville fourth-quarter points and her drive and jumper off a Kelsey Stine assist gave Montoursville a late five-point lead.
"It felt good," Mill said. "When you're down and it's just a comeback it feels great to make those. That (3-pointer) definitely picked my head up."
Lewisburg threatened to trump Montoursville's impressive comeback with one of its own. Kasey Conrad and Maria Kelleher hit four consecutive foul shots in a 30-second span and when Emily Conrad rebounded a missed foul shot with five seconds remaining, victory still was within reach. Emily Conrad (12 points, 6 rebounds) sprinted upcourt, reached the 3-point line and put up a shot. At the same time, Ruffing went up and made a terrific block as the buzzer went off, securing the team's signature win, thus far.
"I coach Emily in the summer and with the ball in her hand it was very nerve-wracking because I know she can make 8 out of 10 of those shots," Montoursville coach Kevin Kurtz said. "It's an instinct and as you see these girls on the soccer field and anywhere else they will compete and they won't back down."
"We knew that the Conrads were good shooters and I saw her and I knew she had the ball," Ruffing said. "I knew I couldn't let her get that shot off because there was a good chance she would make it. I was a little worried but I had to go for it because it was the last second."
That Montoursville would be in position to win the game in the final second seemed far-fetched in the first half. The Warriors made just 3 of 26 shots and trailed 18-5 in the final seconds before O'Malley (11 points, 7 rebounds) went coast-to-coast at the buzzer. Lewisburg owned the boards in the first half, methodically worked its offense and seemed unfazed by Montoursville's swarming defensive pressure.
Montoursville played with greater energy in the third quarter but Lewisburg went ahead 25-14 with two minutes remaining after seeing its lead trimmed to seven. An O'Malley 3-pointer and a Marissa Hall assist to Ally Yocum, though, started changing the game's complexion and gave Montoursville momentum entering the final quarter.
Hall was essential to the comeback, scoring all five of her points in the third quarter while adding two assists during that time. Kelsey Stine also helped keep Montoursville in the game, scoring the team's first five points, dealing four assists and having a hand in 11 of the team's first 17 points.
"I put the hammer down and they responded," Kurtz said. "We found out tonight this team can play physical and they will not quit. We knew coming in Lewisburg is a very good team and win or lose I was pleased with how they came back in the second half."
Mansfield-bound Kelleher had 11 points, five assists and five rebounds, but Ruffing held her to just one shot in the fourth quarter. Kasey Conrad played terrific defense for Lewisburg and held O'Malley to just two first-half points while grabbing eight of her nine rebounds.
Maria Kelleher 2 5-7 11, Emily Conrad 5 0-2 12, Lois Lesher 0 1-2 1, Kasey Conrad 0 2-2 2, Lenore Doyle 1 2-2 4, Haley Stanko 0 0-0 0, Kirsten Blakeslee 1 0-0 2. Totals 9 10-15 32.
Kirsten O'Malley 4 2-2 11, Carly Mill 4 2-5 11, McKenzie Ruffing 0 0-5 0, Marissa Hall 2 0-0 5, Kelsey Stine 2 1-3 5, Alexis Weisser 0 0-0 0, Kayla Venema 0 0-0 0, Ally Yocum 1 0-2 2. Totals 13 5-17 34.
Lewisburg8 10 7 7-32
Montoursville2 5 12 15-34
3-pointers: Lewisburg 4 (Kelleher 2, E. Conrad 2); Montoursville 3 (O'Malley, Mill, Hall).
Records: Montoursville 9-2, 4-0 HAC-II. Lewisburg 6-3, 2-2.