BROCKWAY — The Johnsonburg and Brockway girls basketball teams battled down to the final second Wednesday night, and it was the visiting Ramettes who came away with a big 44-42 victory.
The host Lady Rovers jumped out to a 10-3 lead after one quarter, only to see Johnsonburg put together a 17-8 run in the second to grab a 20-18 lead at the break.
The second half turned into a nip-and-tuck battle, with the teams trading scorers for a vast majority of the final 16 minutes. Brockway (6-5) never regained the lead over the two quarters, although the Lady Rovers pulled even four times in the third and four more times in the fourth.
Johnsonburg (6-7) pushed its lead to as many as seven points (35-28) late in the third before the Lady Rovers fought back to even things at 36-36 midway though the final quarter.
The back-and-forth contest continued from there, and it was Brockway that found itself with possession in a tied game (42-42) wth just under a minute left following a big block by Leah Lindemuth.
The Lady Rovers tried to work the clock for the final shot, but the Ramettes forced a turnover with just under 20 second to go. Johnsonburg junior Rylee Casilio came up with a huge steal in the paint.
She quickly threw a long outlet pass to fellow junior Cassidy King, who drove strong to the basket to score the eventual game-winning basket with 12 seconds remaining.
Brockway made one last push up the floor but came away empty as the Ramettes pulled out a big road victory that also was the Allegheny Mountain League conference game between the inter-division foes.
King fueled the Ramettes’ victory with a team-high 17 points. King, who was saddled with three fouls, scored 10 of those points in the second half. Teammate Maria Jones also reached double figures with 12 points, eight in the first half, to go along with 11 rebounds.
Casilio added five points, eight rebounds and a handful of steals.
“We started really slow and it took a little while for the girls, I think, to realize we were playing a basketball game,” said Ramettes coach Mike King. “And when they did, it was a battle.
“We had some girls step up with Cassidy out (in first half). Sometimes they rely on her too much. They’re all good ball players, they just need to realize they can do it at times. Emma (King), her sister, stepping in and getting us four points (in 3rd quarter) was huge for a freshman in a tight game. I was happy with all that.
“This was a big win for us, especially being the AML game, that puts us at 2-1 in AML. Brockway is a good team and Dick (Esposito) does a very good job with those kids. (Kaitlyn) Morelli and Lindemuth are both very tough and very good players.”
As close as the game ended, it certainly didn’t start that way as Brockway outscored the Ramettes, 10-3, in the opening eight minutes. Lady Rover Kaitlyn Morelli posted eight of her team-high 18 points in the quarter. She also finished with eight steals.
Johnsonburg quickly erased that lead in the second quarter, as the Ramettes opened on an 8-0 run to take their first lead at 11-10 just past the 6-minute mark. Jones scored four points in the spurt, which was started when Ramette Sammie Jacobs bounced the ball off the back of a defender to score on an inbounds play.
The back-and-forth trend started from there, with Johnsonburg eventually taking a 20-18 lead in the locker room. Jones netted eight of her 12 points in the second quarter.
The third quarter proved be just as close before the Ramettes used a 9-2 spurt late in the period to go up 35-28 with 1:28 on the clock. Emma King jump-started that drive with back-to-back baskets for only points of the game.
Brockway countered with an 8-1 run of its own that spanned the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter. Lindemuth scored six of those eight points to help knot things at 36-36. Lindemuth had 14 points.
From there, it was the Ramettes who were able to make one more play, with Casilio’s steal at the end setting up King’s game-winner.
“The focus wasn’t there for some reason tonight, and I don’t know what it was,” said Esposito. “Our shooting wasn’t very good, and it just seemed like the lid was on the basket.
“The kids didn’t quit though, and when we went down by seven (in 3rd quarter) we came back and gave ourselves a chance to win it at the end. We just didn’t get the look we wanted to and then turned it over, and they went down and made the layup.
“We have to learn as a team to defend our home floor. The kids have to understand that when these team come down here, we have to defend our floor. And, we didn’t do it tonight.”
Brockway hosts Brookville Friday, while Johnsonburg entertains Otto-Eldred on Monday.