D-9 Playoffs: Gator girls chomp Red Raiders

Buchsenschutz buzzer-beater stuns Cameron County

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
February 23, 2012

Somer Buchsenschutz collected the pass on the right wing, planted both feet firmly behind the 3-point line, and went up for the final shot of the game, the clock hitting 0:00 and seemingly everyone in the Cameron County gym holding their breath as the basketball spun through the air toward the rim.

Swish.

And while the stunned Lady Red Raiders players and fans looked on in disbelief, the Port Allegany bench spilled onto the court to celebrate a thrilling 48-45 victory in Tuesday night’s District 9 Class A first-round playoff game.

“We actually set up the play for Somer over the top or Becca Lathrop in the post,” Lady Gators coach Kristina Francis said of the game-winner, drawn up during a timeout with 0:03.8 remaining. “One shot, and one shot’s what we did, and it counted.”

For Cameron County coach Dave Sullivan, who saw his seventh-seeded team’s season end in a home-court upset to No. 10 Port Allegany (14-9) after sweeping the North Tier League series for the second year in a row, the loss would have been tough enough to take without having it happen on a long-range missile at the buzzer.

“We battled back, but we let her shoot a 3-pointer,” he said. “We thought they were going to go inside to 40 (Lathrop), who had a great game, and try to draw a foul or something. So we stayed in, and the shot went in.”

He shrugged. “It was a good shot. What are you going to do?”

Sullivan’s strategy would have been hard to argue after watching Lathrop pour in nine of her game-high 18 points in a frantic fourth quarter featuring five ties and four lead changes. The sophomore forward also pulled down 11 rebounds, notching a double-double in a performance the Lady Gators desperately needed after losing fellow post player Rachel Taylor to an ankle injury midway through the first quarter.

They also needed every bit of what they got from Buchsenschutz, whose seven points also included calmly drilling a pair of free throws to stake Port to a 45-43 lead with 0:25 left, 14 seconds before Brooke Dunsmore’s driving layup for the Lady Red Raiders would tie the score for the final time.

No pressure on the freshman, right?

“That was a harder shot than the 3-pointer, I’ll tell you,” Francis said. “With the noise, for her to sink those two, those were just as important as the 3-pointer. We could have probably – maybe – done a little overtime, but it was good to be finished.”

Bonus basketball wouldn’t have seemed likely two minutes into the third quarter, as two free throws and a short jumper by Jordan Edgell helped extend a five-point Lady Gator halftime margin to 32-23 before Cameron County (16-7) began chipping away at the lead. Olivia Guisto scored four of her team-best 11 points during a 9-0 Lady Red Raider run, with fellow senior Kayla Zoschg draining a jumper just before the end of the period to knot the score at 32.

That’s when Lathrop took over, tallying the Lady Gators’ next nine points as the lead changed hands on nearly every trip across center court. Cameron County moved in front for the final time midway through the period on a layup by Kiley Lewis, who finished the game with 10 points and 10 rebounds. A putback by Edgell, Port’s second-leading scorer with eight points, made it 43-41 Lady Gators at the two-minute mark. With both teams scrambling to keep the season alive, the next 90 seconds featured a flurry of turnovers and held balls before Susie Guisto hit a pair of foul shots to tie the score yet again, setting up Buchsenschutz’s last-second heroics.

Afterward, Francis needed a moment to put her thoughts into words.

“I’m speechless,” she said. “I don’t cry, and those girls put me to tears. They really have been working so hard this season, and to see … I feel awful for Cameron County and their seniors, but it was the best situation for us as far as having to play them the the third time. And when Rachel went down, these younger girls stepped up. The leadership was there. And that was a big shot.

“We talked about the runs, we talked about battling with them – and it feels good to be on the winning side of a 3-pointer instead of the losing side of a 3-pointer this time around,” she added with a smile.

“I’m so proud of them, I’m just speechless … but I’m not content. We’re going to forget about the win tomorrow and start gameplanning for Thursday. We’re just going to go at it. Gotta see when we can get in the gym tomorrow.”

The Lady Gators will face a stiff challenge on Thursday, heading south to St. Marys to face No. 2 seed and Allegheny Mountain League champion Elk County Catholic in a 7 p.m. tipoff on ECC’s home court. The Lady Crusaders (21-3) don’t have a single go-to scorer, instead relying on a quartet of players averaging more than seven points per game. According to statistics provided by D9Sports.com, 5-9 junior center Taylor DaCanal and 5-8 senior forward Lexie Meholic lead the way at 9.0 ppg apiece, with 5-7 senior forward Abby Petrosky chipping in 8.3 and 5-6 junior guard Kristy Hanes 7.6 for a team whose only losses were to Class AAA schools Bradford and St. Marys Public. To make matters worse, Port will likely be without Taylor, its second-leading scorer.

But for one night, anyway, there was time to savor this win. Glancing toward the happy Lady Gators and their fans milling around on the court, Francis concluded:

“They deserve it.”

At Emporium, Feb. 21:
Port Allegany (48)

Miller 0 0-0 0, Edgell 3 2-2 8, Li. Delacour 1 2-2 4, Lathrop 7 4-8 18, Taylor 0 1-2 1, Buchsenschutz 2 2-2 7, Woodruff 1 0-0 2, Drabert 1 2-4 4, Johnson 1 0-2 2, Ly. Delacour 1 0-5 2. Totals: 17 13-27 48.
Cameron County (45)
Dunsmore 2 4-7 8, Sullivan 1 0-0 2, O. Guisto 4 3-4 11, Lewis 4 2-2 10, Zoschg 3 0-0 6, Ramsey 1 0-3 3, Burfield 1 0-0 2, S. Guisto 0 3-6 3, Slusarick 0 0-0 0, Younkin 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 12-22 45.

Port Allegany 8 26 32 48
Cameron County 7 21 32 45

Three-point baskets: Port Allegany 1 (Buchsenschutz), Cameron County 1 (Ramsey). Fouls: Port Allegany 21, Cameron County 23. Fouled out: none.

Other first-round scores:
No. 4 Coudersport (19-3) 39, No. 13 Austin (10-13) 21
No. 5 Kane (19-6) 51, No. 12 Allegheny-Clarion Valley (10-13) 33
No. 6 Smethport (18-5) 38, No. 11 Venango Catholic (13-10) 27
No. 8 East Forest (16-7) 48, No. 9 Johnsonburg (13-10) 35

Thursday’s Quarterfinals:
East Forest at No. 1 Keystone (22-1), 7 p.m.
Port Allegany at No. 2 Elk County Catholic (21-3), 7 p.m.
Smethport at No. 3 Clarion (19-3), 7 p.m.
Kane at Coudersport, 7 p.m.

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