MORRISTOWN - Trailing by 10 points with a little more than six minutes left to play Monday night, visiting Harrison Central cranked up its defensive intensity.
That, coupled with a serious injury to Union Local's Abby Collins, led the Huskies to a 56-52 triumph inside 'The Hangar' in Buckeye 8 action.
Harrison Central found itself on the short end of a 44-34 count after the Jets' Mikayla Patton scored three quick baskets to start the final chapter.
HARRISON CENTRAL’S Kara Dunfee (22) looks for room to maneuver Monday night in Morristown against the defense of Union Local’s Cori Medley. Looking on are the Huskies’ Katie Ellzy (32) and Mikayla Patton (33). Harrison Central won, 56-52. Additional images can be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
However, following Patton's third bucket, Collins turned to head back down the floor and suddenly collapsed in pain. She was attended to on the court and then the Union Local bench before being taken from the gymnasium to the hospital with an ankle injury.
The Jets never recovered as the Huskies went on a game-ending 22-8 run.
"I'm very disappointed in how we came out in the fourth quarter," Union Local first-year head coach Kelly Hanlon explained. "We had a lot of stupid turnovers."
Following the stoppage in play, Hanlon saw that her team needed a little more time before play resumed.
"Abby's been our leading scorer lately and everyone looks up to her. It (the injury) definitely took the girls down. I called a timeout to try and settle them down and get them in the game, but it really bothered them.
"She (Abby) said she thought she heard it crack," Hanlon noted. "It's a shame. She's one of our captains and she was playing really well."
Indeed she was as her 13 points and six rebounds would attest.
Following the stoppage in play, Union Local turned the ball over five straight times down the court against Harrison Central's fullcourt pressure.
"We had a lot of stupid mistakes late in the game," Hanlon added. "We didn't play very smart."
On the other end of the court, Huskies' head coach Nick Yourkovich was proud of the way his team never gave up.
"Injuries are a part of any sport, and it was unfortunate what happened to their girl," Yourkovich said. "We turned up the defensive pressure a couple of notches, and it worked."
Junior Katie Ellzy and senior Jesse Ledger paced the offense, while sophomore Paige Richards sparked the comeback on the defensive end of the floor.
Ellzy, who had struggled all night from the floor, converted a pair of conventional three-point baskets among her eight fourth-quarter points. She finished with a team-high 17 markers.
"Katie started off slow, but she came on strong in the fourth quarter when we needed her," Yourkovich pointed out. "It's like she plays average for three quarters and then comes on in the fourth and no one can stop her.
"If we can get her to play like that for four quarters, I don't think we'll have many close games.""
Ledger, who became the Huskies' all-time female leader in three-point baskets last season, drained five for the game, but none were bigger than the two she connected on in the final frame.
Her first came moments after Collins' injury to jump-start the rally, and the second made it a 45-44 deficit with 4:20 remaining.
A bonus goal and two free throws by the Jets' Cori Medley bumped the margin to 50-46, but Ellzy made it 50-48 with a jumper in the lane. Then, following a Union Local turnover, she kissed one off the glass while being fouled. Her ensuing charity stripe would put the Huskies on top, 51-50.
The Jets came right back as Patton, who had a fine inside game all night, scored to put the hosts back on top, 52-51, with 1:24 left to play.
Much to Hanlon's dismay, her team would not score again as Harrison Central rattled off the final five points, including Ellzy's second three-point play of the period that put the Huskies up for good at 54-52. Kara Dunfee made a pair of free throws down the stretch.
"We started off strong, which is what we do, but we also went into a little funk in the second quarter, and that is also something that we do," Yourkovich lamented. "We got ourselves into that 10-point hole in the fourth, but we buckled down the defense and turned up the pressure."
Medley led all scorers in the contest with 18 points, four more than Patton. Ledger backed Ellzy with 15, all coming from behind the bonus arc. Shianne Nameth added seven off the bench and Richards scored six in a reserve role.
The Jets held a 49-39 advantage off the glass as neither team shot well from the floor. Patton grabbed 10 to complete her double-double. Medley had eight and three steals. Amanda Swallie charted seven boards, three assists and two steals.
Ellzy and Nameth evenly split 14 rebounds. Ellzy and Richards each had a trio of steals.
Union Local finished with 23 turnovers, 10 in the fateful fourth quarter. Harrison Central charted 15.
There was no JV game played.
Harrison Central 56, Union Local 52
HARRISON CENTRAL (56) - Ellzy 7 3-5 17; Ledger 5 0-2 15; Yoho 1 0-0 2; Keesey 0 1-2 1; Dunfee 2 2-7 6; Nameth 2 1-2 7; Richards 2 2-2 6; Orr 1 0-0 2; Totals: 20-55 9-20. UNION LOCAL (52) - Medley 5 4-4 18; Collins 5 3-5 13; Russell 0 1-2 1; Swallie 2 1-2 5; Patton 6 2-6 14; Clark-Patterson 0 1-4 1; Delaney 0 0-0 0; Butler 0 0-0 0; Totals: 18-48 12-24.
Three-Point Goals: Harrison Central 7 (Ledger 5, Nameth 2); Union Local 4 (Medley 4)
North can be reached at email@example.com