Neumann’s McNamee catches fire late against Muncy
Shayna McNamee kept working hard and putting up good shots Wednesday, but nothing would fall. Like literally, almost nothing.
McNamee missed 16 of her first 18 shots. But when St. John Neumann needed her most and when the game was its most tense, McNamee could not miss.
McNamee scored nine of her team’s last 15 points, sparked a big game-ending run, and hit the game-clinching free throw Wednesday at the Catholic Community Center as Neumann overcame a 13-point halftime deficit and edged Muncy, 50-49, in a Mid-Penn thriller. McNamee, a team captain, scored a game-high 20 points and showed she is every bit as tenacious as she is talented as the Knights (3-2, 2-0) ended the game on a 15-7 run after trailing by seven with five minutes remaining.
“I had an off game today so it was good to have my team behind me. They stepped up, too,” McNamee said. “I never give up. We could be down 20 points and I’m still going to give it my all and my teammates do the same thing.”
Muncy led 30-17 at halftime before Neumann pulled within one by the end of the third quarter. When the Indians (2-4, 1-1) opened a seven-point lead three minutes into the final quarter it appeared Neumann might be running out of gas. Instead, the Knights were just warming up. And their captain led the charge.
McNamee repeatedly attacked the basket, shook off her shooting struggles and scored six straight quick points, making it a one-point game. After Abby Henderson tied it on a putback, McNamee helped put Neumann ahead to stay, threading an excellent pass to Gabby Lisi who converted the layup and gave the Knights a 47-45 advantage.
“The great part about Shayna is her strength and toughness,” Neumann coach Junior Parrish said. “She is not afraid to go inside and get knocked down and get back up and hit the shots.”
A Muncy foul shot made it a one-point game and McNamee was fouled with 33 seconds remaining. Facing a one-and-one situation, McNamee felt like she was in her element, embraced the situation and hit both shots. She again went to the foul line with 4.5 seconds left and made the critical shot that all but sealed a dramatic win.
“I love games like these,” McNamee said. “I’m always nervous but you have to put those nerves aside and realize that you can hit the foul shot.”
Like Neumann, Muncy is a young team and starts all underclassmen. Still, the improving Indians tried their best to create the most improbable of endings. Makenna Snyder was fouled with a tenth of a second remaining while attempting a 3-pointer. She then calmly swished three straight foul shots, but Henderson successfully inbounded the ball to McNamee and Neumann celebrated a potential stepping-stone win.
“We wanted the Christmas miracle,” first-year Muncy coach Ed Rogers said. “The nice thing is we get to play them again and the girls get to see down the road how much they’ve improved. Our team is going to improve more than most teams with a new coach and starting three sophomores and two juniors. I’m in high spirits and I’m going to try and keep them in high spirits.”
Muncy had plenty of reason to be happy in the first half as it played well in all facets and took a 30-17 lead. But Neumann looked like a more energized team in the second half and constantly swarmed the Indians with their full-court press while forcing 11 third-quarter turnovers. The Knights used their defense to ignite the offense and cut the deficit to one three times.
Muncy scored on three straight possessions to take its 42-35 fourth-quarter lead but managed just one field goal over the final five minutes. Snyder had a big game, scoring 19 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and making four steals. Sasha McMonigle continued her breakout season with 11 points, six assists and six rebounds and Emma Bigelow set the first-half tone with nine points and five steals.
“They’re an amazing group,” Rogers said. “They always are eager to learn. I didn’t expect us to be where we are at this point of the season and we’re going to get better.”
So is Neumann. The Knights start only one senior but grew up fast in a game when it could have folded so many different times. Neumann repeatedly crashed the boards and kept possessions alive and, on a night when it made less than 30 percent of its shots, it still reached 50 points on shear will as much as anything.
Henderson offered a glimpse of what she can become and made a huge impact. The sophomore forward scored 10 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and made three steals. Shelly Floyd continued her strong season inside, made two clutch late foul shots and finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Lisi was outstanding in the second half, Mikayla Plocinski sparked the defense and reserves like Addy Matz, Anne Weller and Brooke French shined defensively while receiving their first significant varsity minutes in a pressure-packed game.
“We have two seniors but it’s mostly underclassmen and to play with that kind of effort and stamina is big,” Parrish said. “They stayed focused the whole time and that’s what I love about it.”
Neumann slowly chipped away at Muncy’s lead in the third quarter’s opening minutes before Floyd really started attacking it. The junior forward scored six fast points inside and putbacks by McNamee and Henderson suddenly made it a one-point game. It appeared Neumann had all the momentum, but Muncy again started building its lead.
Instead of growing more frustrated, Neumann grew more determined.
“I told them at halftime if they come out and play the way they’re capable of playing and with the energy they need to play with good things would happen,” Parrish said. “I like that, even in the final minutes when it got really tense, they stayed focused and executed every play I drew up to a T and knocked down the shots. I could not be happier with they way they played.”
Makenna Snyder 3 13-15 19, Sasha McMonigle 4 2-2 11, Kassidi Lenhart 3 2-5 8, Emma Bigelow 4 0-2 9, Kaitlyn Copeland 1 0-0 2, Alissa Smith 0 0-0 0, Jennifer Frederick 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 17-24 49.
Shayna McNamee 5 10-15 20, Shelly Floyd 5 2-2 12, Mikayla Plocinski 0 0-0 0, Abby Henderson 4 2-6 10, Gabby Lisi 2 4-4 8, Addy Matz 0 0-0 0, Anne Weller 0 0-0 0, Brooke French 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 18-27 50.
Muncy 14 16 6 13–49
Neumann 8 9 18 15–50
3-point goals: Muncy 2 (McMonigle 1, Bigelow 1).
Records: Neumann (3-2, 2-0 Mid-Penn), Muncy (2-4, 1-1).