By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
DANVILLE -- Milton coach Aaron Slusser has affectionately called Katelyn Gensel "Noodles" for the last several years, presumably because of her tall, thin build and light complexion.
That must be it, because the Black Panthers senior is certainly not soft.
Gensel made a strong putback amid the traffic of Danville's bigs to give Milton its first lead with 49 seconds remaining in Friday's pivotal Heartland-I showdown.
She then fearlessly tied up Ironmen freshman post Amber Renz off a missed free throw to maintain possession and ultimately shave a few seconds off Danville's last-ditch play.
The Ironmen had to inbound and go the length of the court to score with seven seconds to play. Although Kylie Romeo raced into the frontcourt and passed to Siobhan Bross for a chance, Milton smothered the Danville senior as she curled into the lane from the left wing, not allowing her a clean look.
Milton, coming off its worst loss of the season, scored easily its best win, overcoming an early 12-point deficit and bumping the Ironmen from a three-way tie atop the HAC-I standings, 39-38, Friday at the McCloskey Center.
"That's a veteran group, and they didn't lose faith because they've been in games and situations like that before," said Panthers coach Aaron Slusser. "It's one of those where instead of shrinking from the moment, they stepped up and took care of it.
"It was a great comeback."
Two days after they were throttled at home by a 4-13 Williamsport team, 58-29, the Panthers weathered Danville's first-quarter blitz and their own 26 total turnovers. The win kept Milton (10-7) tied with Shamokin in the division lead at 8-2, while dropping red-hot Danville (13-4) to 7-3.
"When it got close I thought we panicked, and we hadn't done that before," said Ironmen coach Steve Moser, whose team had won seven of eight. "It was a total team effort (to unravel), for sure. Give Milton credit: They played good defense and scrapped."