Alyson Prigge buried a three point shot with less than a second on the clock to lift the visiting Patrick Henry Patriots over Swanton, 47-46, and spoil what had been a comeback for the ages as the Lady Dogs overcame a 17 point first half deficit to briefly take the lead with just a few ticks remaining.
Played on the evening of Black Friday, this NWOAL contest proved to be the best bargain in the area as the fans got more than their money’s worth in watching the resilient Bulldogs, down 29-12 at halftime, put on a furious rally to take a 46-44 lead just before Prigge’s clutch game winner.
“The girls showed me a lot tonight. It was a great comeback,” said Swanton’s first-year coach Eric Oakes. “And of course, they (Patrick Henry) made the last shot. But I’m real proud of them, though. Very proud.”
Cold shooting and a flat performance on defense for most of the first half combined to put the Dogs in a very big hole. Katie Wagner put the Patriots on the board first with a three pointer and Kyleigh Ramlow later responded with an eight-foot jumper to make the score 3-2 with five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
From there, however, the Patriots began to pull away, going on an 8-0 run while the Bulldogs, relying mainly on three point shooting, could not find the range. Finally, Ramlow drove to the basket and banked in a shot to pull Swanton within 11-4 but Courtney Rosebrook followed with a layup to give PH a 13-4 lead after one.
The Dogs’ shooting marginally improved in the second quarter as they fought to get back in the game. Sidney Taylor and Cydney Christensen each knocked down treys to trim the visitor’s lead to 15-10 but, once again, the Patriots went on a run, scoring 11 straight points to lead by 16. Karah Kohlman stopped the bleeding with a short bank shot with 18 seconds to go in the half, only to see Jessica Bostleman drain a three pointer at the buzzer for a 29-12 halftime advantage for the Patriots.
Down by 17 points with all the momentum on their opponents side the Bulldogs could have easily given in to play for another day but a different and re-energized team emerged from the locker room. They opened the second half by scoring the first nine points and suddenly it was a game again.
Ramlow led the charge by scoring 11 points in the third quarter, including three straight from behind the arc and the Swanton defense became a swarming ball-hawking unit that forced a number of Patrick Henry turnovers. The Dogs outscored PH 15-5 in the quarter and trailed by seven, 34-27, entering the fourth.
Swanton kept up the defensive pressure in the final frame with Haley Nelson pestering the PH ball handlers and picking off several steals as the unlikely comeback continued. Patrick Henry managed to regroup and push their lead back to double digits at 41-31 with 5:30 left in the game but the Bulldogs were relentless and kept chipping away at the deficit.
Forcing more turnovers with a full court defense, the Dogs trimmed the lead to four at 44-40 with just 1:47 left on the clock. A Taylor bucket cut that in half and Claire Leidigh tied the game with a basket inside at the 1:07 mark.
The Swanton defense held and the Bulldogs took their first lead of the game when Leidigh scored on a put back off her own missed shot with 11 seconds left in the contest.
Still maintaining full court pressure, Taylor stole the inbound pass, was immediately fouled and, with the Patriots in the double bonus, went to the line with a chance to ice the game. Unfortunately, both free throws were missed, leaving the door open for Prigge’s heroics.
Despite the sudden heartbreaking loss the Dogs took some consolation with their incredible comeback performance. “We had a lot of heart,” said Nelson, summing up her team’s effort.
“We came together as a team tonight,” added Ramlow who was high scorer for the game with 17 points, including 13 in the second half. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Christensen had eight points for the Bulldogs while Taylor added seven points and eight rebounds.
However, Swanton opened the season with a 49-45 defeat of Lake last Tuesday on the road.
Ramlow led the way with 16 points. Leidigh and Nelson each had nine for the Bulldogs.
Swanton hosts Fayette tonight and Liberty Center on Friday.
Bill O’Connell can be reached at email@example.com