By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
Phil Stamm is not an overly emotional basketball coach.
So it should come as no surprise when his girls stole the ball near half court and trailing by one with less than 30 seconds remaining in Friday’s Heartland Athletic Conference-Division II game against Mount Carmel, they used patience to get an open look and a chance for the lead and the win.
The Green Dragon who fought hard all game and chipped away at a 10-point second-half deficit, missed the shot but, following two free throws by Mount Carmel, they had one final chance to tie the game with 1.6 seconds left as Akilah McFadden’s 3-point shot from the right wing hit the side of the basket as time expired giving Mount Carmel a 47-44 win.
“I thought we had a good look at the basket and a good opportunity, I don’t think I regret that (not calling a time out) at all,” Stamm said. “Mount Carmel is a tough defensive team and if you set something up, then they set up their defense.”
Lewisburg (7-10, 1-8 HAC II), which has lost four of its last five games — and nine of 12 since Dec. 18 — had Mount Carmel (13-3, 8-1 HAC-II) scrambling when they store the ball at half court.
It was the second time the teams has played to three-point differential at the end of the game as Mount Carmel won at home 46-43, on Dec. 21.
“The biggest thing for us is to get over the hump and win a big game,” Stamm added. “We’ve played some close games, but this was a game we really needed to win. We played well, but we seem to come up a little bit short in making one more play that we actually need to pull out the victory.”
McFadden, who came into the game averaging 7.7 points per game, led Lewisburg with 16 points while Emily Conrad added 13 in the loss.
The win was the fourth straight for Mount Carmel who got a game high 20 points from Ali Varano.
“They are a very discipline team and they work hard and they go after the ball,” Mount Carmel head coach Lisa Varano said about the difference in Lewisburg’s game from Dec. 21 to Friday night. “They played a nice game the first time and that could have gone either way and we were fortunate to win. They hung in there tonight when we had a chance to put them away and they stayed disciplined and they almost came up with the win.”
Lewisburg led 6-2 early in the first quarter as they forced the Red Tornadoes out of their transition game and made them pass the ball around the perimeter.
Mount Carmel took its first lead of the game, 7-6, at the 3:55 mark of the first when Varano drove and scooped to the hoop for the basket. Mount Carmel led 10-7 after the first quarter and 22-16 at halftime.
The difference in the game came down to rebounds as Mount Carmel held the edge there while Lewisburg shot 57 percent from the free throw line (8-for-14) as they outscored the Red Tornadoes in the second half 28-25.
“The biggest thing with Mount Carmel is that you have to limit their points in transition and they are really good at playing defense and creating points off of your turnovers,” Stamm said. “I though we did a fairly decent job at it. We game them too many offensive rebounds.“
Trailing by six points to start the fourth quarter, Lewisburg cut the lead to 43-39 with 2:25 left when they started to make its run as McFadden made two free throws, which was followed by a 3-point basket from Conrad to make it 43-42 with 2:15 left.
Varano put the lead back to 45-42 for Mount Carmel with a lay up. McFadden then found a cutting Conrad for a layup to make it 45-44.
That’s when McFadden’s defense forced the turnover and gave Lewisburg a chance to win. She had three block shots on the night to along with nine second-half points.