By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
MIFFLINBURG -- Danville's and Mount Carmel's girls teams christened the Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference tournaments in style, playing more than game's worth of riveting basketball.
The Ironmen, who were on the verge of being left in the dust early by the three-time HAC-II champions, owned the overtime period for a 58-53 win in a semifinal Wednesday at Mifflinburg H.S.
Freshman Amber Renz scored five of her 15 points in OT, including a putback hook that became a go-ahead three-point play and two free throws which made it a two-possession game with 19 seconds left.
Danville outscored the Red Tornadoes 8-3 in overtime, blanking them after Ana Raybuck's 3-pointer on Mount Carmel's second trip, a span of nearly four scoreless minutes.
"We had to play our game, which is defense, because they're a great offensive team," said Ironmen junior Erica Heath. "I thought we handled it well and kept our heads up."(With the win, the Ironmen (17-4) ensured themselves a game every day this week between Sundays. They'll face HAC-III champion Benton (19-4) in the HAC tournament final 6 p.m. Saturday at Williamsport's Magic Dome. Danville beat Benton 58-47 on Dec. 8.
Mount Carmel (18-4) hadn't lost since Jan. 18 at Marian Catholic, stringing together nine wins.
"I think we kind of had it at the end there and let it slip away," said Tornadoes coach Lisa Varano. "We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit with some turnovers at the wrong time. That's the way it goes sometimes."
The Tornadoes committed five turnovers in overtime, the last a travel in the lane when trailing by two with a half-minute left. Renz followed the turnover with her two free throws, and Siobhan Bross added another after a defensive rebound.