DuBOIS — Looking to make a strong push to earn a postseason berth, the DuBois girls basketball team will be aided by the fact five its its final seven games are at home.
The Lady Beavers kicked off that closing stretch of games Wednesday night with a huge 47-45 overtime win over visiting Elk County Catholic to even their season record at 8-8.
DuBois trailed by as many as 10 points twice in the second quarter, with ECC using a stifling defense and high-percentage shooting on the offensive end to take a 24-16 lead into halftime.
DuBois turned the tables on ECC (13-5) in the second half and started to create turnovers while also finding an offensive rhythm itself.
Sophomore Chelsea DeSalve and junior Ashley Hallowell sparked the Lady Beaver comeback with strong second-half performances. Senior Abby Kirk also hit two big shots in the fourth quarter, the second of which gave DuBois a 40-39 lead with 2:02 to play.
Fellow senior Laura Fatula then hit a jumper with 58 seconds remaining to make it a three-point game (42-39), but ECC junior Makenzie Cashmer drilled a 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining to knot things at 42-42.
DuBois called timeout but was unable to get a shot off in the final 19 seconds as the game went to overtime.
DeSalve opened the scoring in the extra session with a 3-pointer at the 3:43 mark. Reilly Herzing countered with a quick hoop for ECC before the defenses took over.
DuBois scored just two points after DeSalve’s trey, with that being a basket by DeSalve with 1:29 to play that put DuBois up 47-44. DeSalve finished with a game-high 17 points, scoring 15 of those after halftime and all five Lady Beaver points in OT.
Herzing wen 1 of 2 at the line with 1:22 remaining to make it 47-45 but neither team scored from there. Both teams had opportunities down the stretch, with DuBois missing the front-end of two one-and-one free throw chances. Elk County also had a miss in the same situation in the final 30 seconds.
DuBois forced one final ECC turnover in the last 10 seconds, with Sarah Snyder all but putting the game away when she held the ball before head coach Keith Kriner called timeout with .6 seconds left. The Lady Beavers then inbounded the ball as the final buzzer sounded.
Hallowell also reached double figures for DuBois, as she scored eight of her 10 points in the second half. She also pulled down 20 rebounds to post another double-double on the season.
“I can’t breath,” said Kriner. “That was a huge win and a great game on both sides of the ball. It was a physical game I thought, and a lot of stuff didn’t get called. But, that’s the way it is sometimes.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the girls. We basically played with five tonight and subbed a little here or there. The girls were focused and really wanted this game. They know what they have to do to get us to playoffs, and this is the beginning of our stretch run.
“Abby (Kirk) had a couple big buckets for us in the fourth, and what a game from Chelsea. She hit a couple big shots too and scored all five points in overtime. That’s a tough situation for a sophomore to step up in, but she did it tonight.
“We told everybody at halftime, they’re pretty much double-teaming (Hallowell), and they’re leaving a guard open. So, we just have to get the ball moving around the perimeter and look to dribble penetrate. And, I think for the most part that worked. Being down eight (at half) to a team like that — this was a big win for us.”
Both teams struggled to get into an offensive flow in the first quarter and eventually traded baskets throughout the quarter.
Lady Crusader Cassidy Cunningham banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give ECC a 12-8 lead after one quarter. Cashmer opened the quarter with a 3-pointer of her own, while Herzing scored four points in between. Cashmer and Herzing each scored 11 for ECC.
Elk County carried the momentum of Cunningham’s buzzer-beater into the second and used an 8-2 run to start the quarter (11-2 overall) to build a 20-10 lead with 5:28 left in the half. Taylor Newton had four points in that spurt, while Herzing and Josie Smith each had baskets.
DuBois countered with a free throw by Fatula and a 3-pointer by Snyder to quickly cut the lead to six at 20-14. Fatula finished with nine points.
Smith and Maddie Kear then scored back-to-back hoops for ECC to push the lead back to 10 before Morgan henry dropped in her lone basket of night for DuBois to make it 24-16.
Neither team scored in the final 2:20 of the half, as ECC took that 24-16 advantage into the break.
Hallowell scored her first basket of the game to open the second-half scoring 1:10 in. Cashmer responded with a 3-pointer for ECC, but it was all Lady Beavers from there in the final six minutes of the quarter.
DuBois put together an 11-2 run to fight back to tie the game at 29-29 late in the quarter. DeSalve scored seven points in the spurt, including a three-point play, while Hallowell capped the run with a three-point play of her own. The duoscored all 13 points in the quarter for DuBois.
However, ECC took a 31-29 lead into the fourth as Sady VanAlstine hit a jumper from the corner at the buzzer — ECC’s second buzzer-beater of the game.
Cashmer opened the fourth with a basket off a steal before the teams traded scores. Hallowell and Kirk then scored back-to-back, with Kirk’s hoop tying things at 35-all.
The teams then traded the lead four times over the two-plus minutes. DeSalve hit a 3-pointer to put DuBois up 38-37 with 2:41 to play, while Kirk’s second basket of the quarter gave the Lady Beavers a 40-39 edge after Herzing had scored for ECC.
Cashmer ended the back-and-forth fourth quarter with her late 3-pointer to force overtime before the Lady Beavers pulled out the victory in OT.
“The key was we took good, open shots in the first half, and we settled for shots we really didn’t ned in the second half,” said ECC coach Ken Pistner. “We had countless opportunities to put them away, and that’s been our story this year. We get leads and just can’t put them away, and we have to try to hang on at the end.
“We had way too many turnovers, and you can’t win tight games every week if you;re turning the ball over that much. We haven’t played one game this year where we’ve put four quarters together, and we continued in that trend again tonight.”
Both teams are back in action Friday at home with District 9 League games. DuBois hosts St. Marys, while ECC welcomes Punxsutawney.