Buckeye girls need OT to get by Edison

MORRISTOWN – Buckeye Local and Edison split their two regular season matchups.

Thus, it was only fitting for their Division II sectional opener to head for overtime.

The Lady Panthers, who led by 14 at a juncture in the second quarter and 13 early in the third quarter, found away to escape and earn a return trip to Union Local High School on Thursday after posting a 46-44 victory.

“We talked to the girls after a loss an overtime loss to Meadowbrook (last week) about how to close out games,” said Buckeye Local head coach Willy Luther. “We almost gave one away tonight, but I think they drew back on that experience and every time things got tough, it seemed like we had an answer.”

The Lady Panthers (6-17) will continue sectional tourney play against Minerva at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Tri-Valley and Indian Creek will clash in the opener that evening. Edison, meanwhile, finishes its campaign with a 4-19 record.

“I think this is the first time in 13 years we’ve won a sectional game. This was one of our big goals,” Luther said. “Our season didn’t go how we wanted, obviously. I kept telling the girls that they’re a lot better than their record, but they had to go out and keep believing. We’ll go to work and prepare for Minerva. I know they’ve got some quick guards. We have to defend, take care of the basketball and convert in transition.”

After building the 13-point lead in the third quarter on buckets by Amy Balk and Kayla Fillipovich, it looked as if the Lady Panthers’ attention had already shifted to Minerva.

Behind solid shooting from Molly McCoy and Katelyn Pollock, Edison clawed their way back into the game with a 12-0 run, but Buckeye Local still held a 29-25 edge after three panels.

The Lady Wildcats continued to battle and knotted the game at 31 with 4:55 to go in regulation and took the lead with 3:41 showing. A driving bucket by McCoy, who fouled out with two mintues to go in regulation, made it a 36-33 reading, but freshman Becky Zeroski drilled the Lady Panthers’ only triple of the game to tie the game again.

“Scratch and claw is a good way of putting this game and this team,” said first-year Edison coach Jason Ensinger. “These girls played hard all season, worked hard every day, but we just couldn’t get out of the hole we dug for ourselves early tonight.”

Junior Abby Fonow put Edison back on top by two. However, Fillipovich, who led all scorers in the game with 19 points, drained two at the line with 33 seconds to go.

“When the game went to overtime, I told the girls to relax and believe,” Luther said. “We just had to play and continue to focus. I thought we did a nice job in overtime even when we got down. They just battled to the end.”

In overtime, Zeroski hit two big jumpers from near the top of the key, including one that put Buckeye up two at 43-41. A foul shot and a Kayli Stewart goal put the Lady Wildcats back on top by one at 44-43.

Buckeye had an empty trip, but sophomore Lauren Swiger forced a five-second call and Zeroski drilled another, giving Buckeye the lead for good. Despite struggling mightily from the line, Zeroski got one of two to go, but Edison still had hope.

However, it missed an inside shot and the buzzer sounded before they could get off a putback.

“We were trying to bleed some clock off there and got called for a five-second call,” Ensinger said. “We just didn’t execute at times. It stinks to scratch and claw and then come up short, but we return everyone except Molly next year.”

Fillipovich was complemented in the scoring column by Zeroski, who had nine.

McCoy went for 14 to lead the Lady Wildcats, while Pollock and Fonow each donated 10. Scoring:

EDISON (44) – Hunter 0, 0-0 0; Pollock 3, 2-2 10; Scott 0, 3-8 3; McCoy 6, 1-2 14; Reynolds 0, 0-0 0; Drabick 0, 0-0 0; Miller 0, 0-0 0; Fonow 5, 0-1 10; Stewart 3, 1-2 7; Morrison 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 17, 7-15 44. BUCKEYE LOCAL (46) – Zeroski 3, 2-9 9; Swiger 0, 3-4 3; Leonard 3, 0-0 6; Fillipovich 5, 9-13 19; Valuska 1, 0-0 2; Czuchran 2, 0-2 4; Balk 1, 1-2 3; Totals: 15, 15-30 46.

Three-Point Goals: E – Pollock (2), McCoy. BL – Zeroski.

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com