Indians fall in overtime
With 18 seconds left on the clock, and the memory of Monday’s three-point loss still fresh in her head, Felicia Miller knew it was her time.
The pain of the home loss must have drown out any pressure, because Miller called for the ball, set her feet and banked in a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.
Once in the extra period Justine Seely scored eight of her game-high 21 points as Benton defeated Muncy, 56-51, in a crucial Heartleand Athletic Conference III showdown.
The win gave Benton (16-4, 12-1) at least a share of the HAC III title. A win at Sullivan County Tuesday makes them out right champs. Muncy will have to hope for a Benton loss along with closing out its league schedule with two victories if it hopes to win a share of the title.
Prior to Miller’s heroics Benton called a timeout to draw up the final shot. And for anyone interested, Miller’s three wasn’t the shot that was drawn up.
“That was not the plan at all,” Benton coach Harry Schlichter said of the final play in regulation. “We drew something up for (Mackenzie) Yurko in the corner. It didn’t go the way we planned, but it worked out.”
Miller hit two treys in the third quarter, but was a dismal 0 for 9 from the field before that. She also passed on plenty of open shots in the fourth quarter.
“She was struggling all day,” Schlichter said. “She told me she was going to start driving and I said no. I wanted her to keep shooting.”
And it’s a good thing Miller didn’t go with what she was feeling.
In the final play of regulation, Muncy (15-5, 10-2) collapsed inside to stop an easy two, but couldn’t get out to contest Miller’s shot.
“We couldn’t give up an easy two there with 18 seconds to go, but we told them not to let a three go up,” Muncy coach Craig Weaver Jr. said. “Unfortunately, that was the shot they let go up, and that was the difference.”
Up to that point, Muncy had outscored Benton, 11-4, in the final quarter.
But Miller’s desire not to repeat the emotions she felt after Muncy’s three-point win Monday proved to be too much.
“I didn’t want to lose to Muncy by three points again. It sucked on Monday to lose to them,” Miller said. “I kind of had that feeling that it would go in.”
Once in overtime, Seely scored the first six points before Dallas Kriebal hit the second of two fouls shots. Seely (21 points, 17 rebounds, four blocks) scored the next basket and Kriebal added another as Benton shocked the Muncy faithful.
And prior to her overtime surge, Seely was the defensive difference in the game. Her ability to control the middle and block shots kept the Indians from penetrating off the dribble and forced the offense to rely on outside shots.
“It’s that quote that says ‘defense wins championships’,” Seely said. “I like defense and blocking shots. That’s kind of my mentality.”
Seely also hit all seven of her free throws, including two in overtime.
“It’s pretty much all mental for me,” Seely said. “I know I have to score for the team to win and create other opportunities for other players.”
Benton knew it would have to rely on some new faces in the early goings. Two regular starters were benched in the first quarter for team reasons.
“With two starters not being in the game and those other girls picking up, it was excellent,” Schlichter said. “I was hoping we could keep it at 10 at halftime, but those girls kept it a one. I was very impressed with them.”
The combination of a solid defensive effort and a 8 for 23 shooting performance through the first half kept Benton within a point.
“The game plan was to set up, attack the basket and draw the fouls,” Weaver said. “We had the shots, but they didn’t fall for us. Missed shots and layups just killed us tonight.”
Jordan Jones led the Indians with 17 points.
Jones connected on a three midway through the second quarter to put Muncy up 19-14. McLaughlin then added a layup before Benton closed the half out with a 6-0 run.
“We knew we had to pull together at that point,” Seely said. “The last time we lost by three. We knew this was going to be a tough game and we had to come out mentally prepared.”
Casey Gavin 0 0-0 0; Sarah Stevens 3 2-2 8; Felicia Miller 4 0-0 11; Mackenzie Yurko 2 0-0 5; Justine Seely 8 7-7 21; Kaitlyn Derrick 2 0-0 4; Brianna Samsel 0 2-2 2; Dallas Kriebal 1 1-2 3. Totals 14 12-13 56.
Gina Paisley 2 1-2 5; Crystal Good 1 2-4 4; Allison Edwards 2 2-5 7; Brianna McLaughlin 5 3-6 13; Jordan Jones 5 6-8 17; Charity Good 2 1-3 5; Rachel Moore 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 15-28 51.
Benton 10 10 18 7 11-56
Muncy 11 10 13 11 6-51
3-point goals: Benton 4 (Miller 3, Yurko). Muncy 2 (Edwards, Jones).
Records: Benton 17-4. Muncy 15-5.
Next: Muncy at Millville, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. Sullivan County at Benton, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.