For both PE and Pangborn there was a lot on the line. Both teams came into the game undefeated and were the last game remaining on the regular schedule. As each team was looking for a little momentum heading into the post-season, this game had a lot on the line. And it didn’t disappoint.
A last second half-court desperation heave by Pangborn fell short, but that’s far from the end of the story. With about 30 seconds left in the game, Pangborn drove down the length of the court and hit a huge pull-up 3 pointer to pull within 1 point, a monumental play that capped an even more massive 19-8 run for the Phoxes.
However, with all the momentum on the side of Pangborn, Macy Mulhall, a sophomore from PE, knocked down 4 flush free throws with all the pressure on her young shoulders. She scored the last 4 points for her team, which proved to be the difference maker as they outlasted the Phoxes 44-41.
PE jumped out to an early lead with an 8-0 run halfway through the first half. That distanced the two teams and the Pyros never gave up that lead. PE capitalized on their inside dominance scoring 16 of 20 first half points in the paint. They continued to feed the ball down low for the easy buckets, but in the second half they began to hit shots from the outside. They scored 2 3-pointers and another deep 2 to extend the lead in the second half. And it looked like a safe victory for them.
But not if the Phoxes had anything to say about it; with about 5 minutes left and the pressure on, they began to answer. They grew more aggressive both on offense and defense, scrambling for the ball, making the necessary steals and subsequent shots. They scored 2 big 2-pointers in that big run at the end of the game. They flew around on defense confusing the Pyro players and causing turnovers.
But in the end, the Pyros fended off the Phoxes. Mulhall attributed it partly to luck. “We hit some pretty crazy shots. But it was a fun and evenly matched game.” With only one sub for the Pyros, they showed their determination and stamina. But the main takeaway for PE was that they had fun. They do not really practice outside of the games and their loose and lighthearted play keeps them in games. They are looking forward to the post season and hope that the games are not that close in the future.
For Pangborn, Mandy Conlin was happy with how their team played. Down late in the 2nd half and to mount a comeback like they did, she was proud of her team. “It was one of our best competitions yet, and I’m glad everyone came out to play.” Their bench was a huge asset for them. With 6 players ready to sub in at any time, Pangborn had the stamina to stay with a tough PE team right down to the end of the game. Conlin said that their feisty and tenacious defense brought them back into the game. “Our athleticism kept us in it. We move around a lot, make steals and score fast points.” Hopefully for the Phoxes this is not the end of the line. With a 4-1 record they are optimistic about making the playoffs but they are not sure. “If we make the playoffs, we are going to work on our defense, sink more shots and play hard.” That seems like a good recipe for success. As long as they keep games as interesting as that one was, success should not be an issue for them.