By Jerry Del Priore
It was an arduous hill to climb for top-seeded Lab Museum United basketball, but it found a way to come out on top in a third-round PSAL Girls A nail-biting 50-47 victory over No. 17 Scholars’ Academy Wednesday night at home.
For three quarters, and most of the fourth, head coach Michael Lloyd said the Lady Seawolves outplayed Lab Museum. But after the Lady Gators were down 45-38 with 3:25 to go in the game, they woke up and cut the lead to 45-40 with 2:45 remaining in the tilt.
“Once I saw that we were down seven, the way we played throughout the game, the offensive possessions that we were turning over, and how we were missing shots, we were still only down seven with like two and half, three minutes left,” Lloyd explained. “I was like (to the team), ‘They don’t have enough to put us away, so they don’t have enough to beat us.’
“That’s when we switched up our defense. We starting locking in a little bit more. Once we able to do that, we were able to change the tempo of the game.”
With Lab Museum’s defense stopping Scholars’ Academy, sophomore guard Dasha Goodman connected from downtown to slice the deficit to 45-43 with 2:11 left on the clock.
“In one of the last plays of the game, I guess I needed to step up,” Goodman, who posted a team-high 17 points, said of the huge three-pointer she drained. “And I hadn’t been really shooting well the whole game. So, I kind of feel I owed one (to the team), and I let it go and it felt good.”
Junior guard Delilah Kalle believed it was the spark that lit the Lady Gators’ proverbial fuse.
“That was kind of the turning point with the whole game, because our confidence was low, our self-esteem was low,” said Kalle, who added 12 key points in the affair. “It brought us back.”
Continuing to play typical stingy Lab Museum defense, Kalle hit three of four foul shots to give the Lady Gators a 46-45 advantage with 0.33 ticks to go. Admittedly tense, Kalle took sage advice from her teammates, and proceeded to sink vital free throws during crunch time.
“I was really nervous. I think we were down two. I knew I had to hit both in order to get us to where we need to be,” she said. “Dasha and Rianne (John) just came up to me, and said, ‘This is what we practice to for. It goes back to fundamentals. You just need to block everything out, and don’t put pressure on yourself. it will go in.”’
The Lady Seawolves turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, and Kalle sunk two more from the charity stripe to extend Lab Museum’s lead to 48-45 with 0.25 left on the contest.
Refusing to roll over, however, Scholars’ Academy drained two foul shots of their own to inch within a point of the Lady Gators with 0.21 seconds remaining in the game. But Goodman dropped two from the foul line with 12 seconds left on the clock to seal the deal for Lab Museum, as its defense clamped down the rest of the way to secure the victory.
Sophomore guard Kayla Bridgeman chipped in with an impressive 16 points. Freshman forward Megan Connolly led the Seawolves with 17.
The Lady Gators will host eight-seeded Mott Haven Wednesday, March 8 at 5:00 p.m. in Class ‘A’ quarterfinals.