By: Ross Laorenza
With 4.7 seconds left in regulation the Sanborn girls basketball team was trailing by 2 and in jeopardy of losing their first game all year. To add difficulty Gilford's Kaitlyn VanBennekum was going to the line shooting one-and-one. Indians coach Brian Gray called a time-out.
"When you have those timeouts to set up, you have to talk about what is happening and then what's going to be happening," said coach Gray. "So I set them up with different options based off of what was going to happen. So, when they came out (of the timeout) they knew they had a plan, at least, to get something going."
Gray's planning an time management worked to perfection. VanBennekum missed the front half of the 1-and-1. Sanborn grabbed the rebound and Briana Center quickly passed the ball up to Sophie Merry-Carriero who scored at the buzzer to force overtime 46-46. It was a truly remarkable play for a team that looked destined for defeat. Just seconds earlier Sanborn failed on three shot attempts that would have given them the lead. Instead they played four extra minutes to decide the game. Ally Statezni scored the only basket of OT with a runner of the backboard. Sanborn sealed the victory with two blocks in the last gasp effort for Gilford. Final: 48-46.
This game was a battle all the way through with no lead greater than 6 points for either team. The Gilford defense led by Taryn Breton, Olivia Harris and Stevie Orton constantly pressured Sanborn, challenging anyone who possessed the ball. Statezni was crucial in the victory for Sanborn. She used her size to battle with Orton inside and racked up 22 points including the game winner.
The game was tied after the 1st quarter 11-11 when both teams started scoring in bunches. Orton opened the 2nd with a power move in the lane to give Gilford a brief lead. Sam Broyer tied the game at 13 snagging a rebound and putback. After several possessions Statezni put Sanborn back in front grabbing an offensive board and scoring.
Kaitlyn VanBennekum tied the game while drawing contact, but missed the and-1 opportunity. Stanezni struck again, this time from long range to put Sanborn up 18-15. Lauren Dean used a nice dribble-drive move to score a lay-up, and-1! 18 all. Sanborn then jumped out to their largest lead with a 6-0 run. Kaitlyn Broadhurst and Ally Statezni scored in the run. Gilford would counter with a run of their, outscoring Sanborn 11-2 over the remainder of the half. A deep three pointer from Olivia Harris gave Gilford a 29-26 halftime lead.
Less than minute into the 3rd quarter the game was tied again. Guess who? Ally Statezni for three! Gilford used a long possession trying to cycle their offense, but it ended with a block and transition offense for Sanborn. Skyla Shibel splashed home a three putting the Indians back in front. Two free-throws from Stevie Orton cut the deficit to 1, but a steal and score from Statezni padded the lead again. Enough can't be said about how well Ally Statezni played in the game. She was a threat to score whenever she was near the basket.
Two solid possession from Gilford saw the game tied again. Shelby Cole and Taryn Breton both scored while cutting through the defense and straight to the basket. Haley Basiliere broke the tie and gave Sanborn a 38-36 lead heading to the 4th quarter.
Broadhurst added to Sanborn's lead seconds into the quarter. A minute later Cole drew the Golden Eagles back within one with a shot from beyond the arch. Mathilda Derek got to the line for Sanborn and made two free-throws. 42-39, Indians. A steal and score from Olivia Harris pulled Gilford back within one. And a 1 of 2 performance at the line from VanBennekum tied the game at 42. With just over three minutes remaining Stevie Orton gave Gilford their first lead of the 4th quarter. Momentum appeared to be on the side of the Golden Eagles. With under two minutes, Statezni, with a clutch shot, tied it for Sanborn.
With 1:07 left Dean was at the line for Gilford. She made her first free throw, then a timeout was called. She missed the second. 45-44. A deep three for Sanbron clanked off the rim and the rebound was grabbed by Gilford. With 30.5 left Breton was at the line for Gilford shooting 1-and-1. Timeout Sanborn. Breton went 1 of 2. 46-44 Gilford.
A quick three attempt by Sam Broyer was no good. Sklya Shibel stole the ball and got it in the hands of Statezni, but her three missed. With 8.7 remaining Sanborn ran an inbound play for Briana Center. Her open look from the corner was no good and Gilford grabbed the rebound. That set up the fateful final play of regulation. Missed free throw, outlet pass, TIE GAME, BUZZER! The home crowd erupted into the loudest cheers of the night.
In OT it was a suffocating defensive performance by Sanborn and another key play from Ally Statezni that sealed the victory and improved Sanborn's record on the year to 7-0. Final score in OT, Sanborn: 48, Gilford: 46.
"I think this is a big win for us," said Indian's coach Brian Gray. "I tell them that every game is different and that each game is a new goal, so it was good that we completed our goal, but we're right back to work tomorrow."
It will be interesting to see how the gritty win builds the confidence of the young Indian team if they are to face another challenge later in the season. Ally Statezni finished with 22 points for Sanborn. Skyla Shibel tallied 8 points and Sophie Merry-Carriero finished with 7 points including the game tying basket at the buzzer. Stevie Orton racked up 19 points in the loss for Gilford. Kaitlyn VanBennekum and Lauren Dean both finished with 8 points for the Golden Eagles.
From Kingston, New Hampshire; Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook.