Wildcats edge Millionaires

MILL HALL – Trailing Williamsport by three points, Central Mountain’s Sarah Jensen shoved aside any pressure and brought the Wildcats back for a 40-39 home victory on Thursday night.

Down 36-33, with two minutes remaining, Jensen tied the game after securing an offensive rebound and converting the putback while being fouled. She calmly tied the game at 36-36 with the ensuing free throw.

After a turnover by the Millionaires, Jensen again battled for a rebound and earned a two-shot trip to the foul line. She buried one of the two and gave the Lady Wildcats a one-point lead with 1:36 remaining.

“Jensen’s game was the biggest for us,” Central Mountain head coach Lindsey Rogers said. “She battled for every rebound and they were huge. If she wasn’t there, we would be in trouble. She came up big for us.”

Sophomore Krista Heckman also came up big for the Wildcats. She scored 10 of her team’s 16 first-half points and finished with 19 total, including a left-handed layup with less than a minute left in the game.

“Lately I haven’t been making my shots, tonight, I surprised myself,” Heckman said. “The first quarter got me pumped up for the game. It was exciting.”

She worked her way through the Williamsport zone and found enough space in the paint to lead all scorers.

“Krista is continuously a hard-working kid,” Rogers said. “No matter what, she always gives her best effort. It was nice to see her knock down the shots and gain the confidence. She is quick and athletic and it was nice to see her be the spark.”

Jensen finished with 14 rebounds to add to her late free throws.

Central Mountain (4-7) jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first quarter before Williamsport answered right back with a 12-2 run to end the first quarter.

The Millionaires (3-7) remained steady in the second quarter and took a 21-16 lead into halftime.

“I was pleased with the way we started,” Williamsport coach Derrick Slaughter said. “We talked all season about how important it is to get off to a quick start. Tonight, we were able to build a lead and feed off it for most of the game.”

Williamsport scored the first six points in the third quarter and extended its lead. Lydia Whaley and Chloe Jennings combined for the six unanswered points.

Central Mountain started the second half 0 for 5 from the floor as its deficit grew to 11 points.

“We hit that lull in the second and the start of the third,” Rogers said. “I had my concerns about where this team was mentally. I took a timeout and threw it at them. I told them to play their hardest or we were going to lose this game. That is when we came out firing. It was a complete change.”

Shelbe Walker stepped up and nailed a game-changing 3-pointer, Shady followed with a three and Heckman capped off a 10-0 Lady Wildcat run with a layup – cutting the lead to one.

“I think when we hit those runs, it takes us into the energy we need,” Rogers said. “We feed off of it. During a timeout, I told the girls they need to continue with the same energy. They did that and good things happened.”

With three seconds remaining in the third, senior guard Johnna Garbrick buried a mid-range jumper and gave the Lady Wildcats a 28-27 lead heading into the fourth.

Heckman gave the Wildcats some breathing room with a 3-pointer to start the fourth.

Whaley kicked off an 9-2 run for the Millionaires and after two made free throws from Marissa Peterson, Williamsport led 36-33.

Jensen and Heckman fired back in the final two minutes, securing the victory for Central Mountain.