Made shot at buzzer too late as South holds off Lewisburg

The ball bounced off the rim twice, then fell through the basket. South Williamsport players celebrated while jubilant Lewisburg players jumped and embraced each other.

Seconds later, South was the only team still celebrating. Roz Noone hustled, corralled a late rebound and hit what would have been a game-winning buzzer-beating 3-pointer Monday at South Williamsport, but the shot was waved off, coming a split second after the buzzer sounded as the Mounties survived and won a 48-47 thriller.

Video replays showed that referees made the right call, but the way the game ended seemed fitting because there were no losers last night. South simply made one more play in a game as exciting as it was hard-fought. Alyssa Johnson recorded a double-double, Jaela House scored 17 points and Haley Neidig played sensational defense as South (10-1) won its eighth straight and showed it is as tough as its talented.

“It was pretty scary because I thought it was within the time, but it wasn’t so I’m really happy about that,” Johnson said after scoring 11 points and grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds. “We played really tough the whole game and they really came back at us after we had those runs. We needed a lot of heart for it.”

And South had plenty. So did Lewisburg.

In a back and forth game, South players constantly dove after loose balls, intensely fought for rebounds and swarmed defensively. The Mounties are a strong team and play outstanding basketball together, but this was all about their character as they defeated the defending HAC-II champions for the first time since 2012. Had they taken one play off, the outcome would have changed. If one wants to know how South has dramatically turned its program around the last two seasons and gone from one win three years ago to district title contender, just look at last night’s game.

“I can’t name a player that doesn’t work hard,” Johnson said. “We all do it for each other. None of us care about how many points we score as long as we win the game and work as a team.”

“This team has so much heart and mental toughness,” South coach Justin Marnon said. “We talked at halftime and said it’s going to go either way. We have to have every 50-50 ball. If that ball hits the rim and can go either way it has to be ours. It was a battle and Lewisburg was the same way. It was a hard-fought and well-played game. Their competitiveness has come with experience and confidence and they’re leaving it out on the floor every night.”

South led 9-3 early, but Lewisburg (4-4) opened a five-point lead late in the second quarter. The Mounties then started taking over, cutting it to a one-point deficit at halftime and scoring the third-quarter’s first 13 points to take a 36-24 lead. Lewisburg did not blink and came roaring back, pulling within one by the end of the quarter and going up 42-40 three minutes into the fourth. Again, South answered a haymaker with a blow of its own, going on an 8-0 run and taking a 48-42 lead with 2 minutes, 30 seconds remaining.

South answered each Lewisburg run the same way it has turned its program around–working together. Four players scored in the third-quarter’s opening three minutes those same four scored during the 8-0 run. Players gave up good shots for better ones and four starters produced at least six points while Neidig had four assists. Megan Weber scored nine of her 12 points in the second half and had two key assists. Sydney Bachman and Claudia Green provided valuable minutes off the bench and drives by House and Julie Anthony gave South its late six-point lead.

“Every time we get down it makes us tougher and makes us want to come back more and make us work harder,” Johnson said. “I’ve never been more confident in my team. Last season and the season before we’ve gotten better. Coach has noticed a difference in our confidence and I’ve noticed it in my teammates as well.”

Lewisburg showed a lot of confidence as well, especially in the third quarter when it changed the game’s complexion and turned a potential rout into a nailbiter. Senior point guard Grace Kelleher has carried the Dragons at times and was strong again, scoring 17 points and dealing four assists. But the 1,000-point scorer had a lot of help last night as every player coach Brent Sample used made a quality impact.

Sydney Hoffman (9 points, 6 rebounds), Hope Drumm and Za’Imah Tutler were outstanding off the bench, combining for 19 points and 15 rebounds. Tutler helped Lewisburg surge ahead in the second quarter and Drumm hit consecutive 3-pointers, making it a one-point game entering the fourth quarter. Hoffman then scored off a putback and hit a free throw as Lewisburg took a 42-40 lead with six minutes remaining.

“We could have let it get away, but we fought back. We showed some resiliency and we were just about .2 seconds from winning it,” Sample said. “South is a really good team and to come up here and play hard and lose by one shows we’re starting to build. I told them it’s not where we are now, it’s where we are at the end of the season.”

If Lewisburg builds off last night’s performance, it could again be a postseason factor a year after finishing second in District 4 Class AAAA and reaching states. Lewisburg has lost one-point games to each of last year’s District 4 Class AA finalists in the last week and can wreak havoc with its defense. That is exactly what Allie Reed did after South went up six late. Reed made three of her game-high six steals in the next two minutes.

Reed scored inside, then made another steal two possessions later, finding Erin Hilkert inside. Reed’s next steal led to Kelleher hitting a foul shot and making it 48-47 with 31 seconds left.

“I told them you have nothing to hang your heads about. They could have quit and they fought back hard,” Sample said. “It was a team effort. Everyone has to contribute and today we got contributions from everyone on the court. It’s just putting all the pieces together and eventually we’ll get there.”

Lewisburg called timeout with 13.5 seconds remaining and set up what it hoped would be a game-winning play. Kelleher often shines in these situations and Neidig would not let her attempt the last shot. As she did all night, Neidig stayed in front, cut off the lane and forced Kelleher to the wing. She passed the ball up with five seconds on the clock and a 3-pointer bounced long off the rim. Noone chased it down and did all she could to put up another shot. Seconds later South players, coaches and fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“Haley did a wonderful job on Grace for four quarters and she’s an outstanding player,” Marnon said. “We had to try and force the ball out of her hands and make someone else take the final shot. That was our goal and once again the girls did exactly what we asked.”

LEWISBURG (47)

Grace Kelleher 4 7-12 17, Erin Hilkert 3 0-0 6, Katy Martin 0 0-0 0, Roz Noone 10-0 3, Allie Reed 1 0-0 2, Sydney Hoffman 4 1-2 9, Hope Drumm 2 0-0 6, Za’Imah Tutler 2 0-2 4. Totals 17 8-16 47.

SOUTH (48)

Megan Weber 5 0-0 12, Jaela House 5 7-8 17, Haley Neidig 1 0-1 2, Alyssa Johnson 5 1-3 11, Julie Anthony 2 2-2 6, Claudia Green 0 0-0 0, Sydney Bachman 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 10-14 48.

Lewisburg 14 10 15 8–47

South 14 9 17 8–48

3-pointers: Lewisburg 5 (Kelleher 2, Drumm 2, Noone); South 2 (Weber 2).

Records: South 10-1. Lewisburg 4-4.

JV Score: South 27-19

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