Visiting Falcons score four points in final 5.9 seconds to defeat Quakers in Orchard Park’s home opener
Despite trailing for all but two minutes of its home opener versus Niagara Wheatfield Thursday, the Orchard Park girls basketball nearly pulled off an improbable comeback after trailing by 13 points at halftime.
After a slow first quarter where the Lady Quakers struggled to hit shots and rebound on their misses, the Quakers trailed, 16-8.
Despite turning up the offense in the second quarter, turnovers and foul trouble by the Quakers allowed Niagara Wheatfield to take a 38-25 halftime lead.
“We were all trying to stay positive,” sophomore Shaye Swiatek said of the team’s mood at halftime. “We knew we could come back.”
Defensive adjustments, long-range shots, and a commitment to hitting the offensive boards cut the NW lead to eight after three quarters.
“We weren’t trapping on our press,” junior Noelle Poloncarz said of the team’s first-half defense. “We picked it up on our rebounding, offensively and defensively, which opened us shots.”
Senior forward Jill Michael was particularly strong in the second half scoring 13 of 14 points after halftime.
With four minutes remaining in the game, Swiatek’s offensive rebound and put-back cut the lead down to two points. After a pair of outside baskets from junior Hannah Johnson (9 points), Swiatek hit a three-point shot to give OP a 61-59 lead.
Seventh grader Mariah Modkins hit a couple free throws to give the Quakers a 63-61 lead. After a missed shot by Niagara Wheatfield, the Falcons called timeout with possession of the ball under the basket and just 5.9 seconds left in regulation. The Falcons hit a shot to tie the game with three seconds.
The Quakers appeared destined for another overtime after playing an extra period versus Williamsville East on Tuesday. However, the Falcons subsequently stole OP’s in-bounds pass and cashed a jumper to steal the victory.
Poloncarz led Orchard Park scorers with 18 points. Swiatek finished with 12 points.
The loss drops Orchard Park to an 0-2 record. The Quakers will travel to play Jamestown on Dec. 12 before returning home to host Frontier on Monday, Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
[NOTE: OP at Jamestown has been postponed]