MIDDLETOWN >> With 94 feet to move a basketball, and with just under nine seconds to make it happen, Penncrest girls basketball coach Bob Higgins didn’t need to do any time-distance calculating Tuesday night. He already had his answer.
Deliver the ball to Kat Mullaney.
“She likes to get to the rim,” Higgins said. “And we knew she wasn’t going to be running into people.”
So in a tie game with Bishop Shanahan, in overtime, with 8.7 seconds left, Grace Harding inbounded from beneath the Penncrest basket, found Mullaney and watched the rest. She saw Mullaney spin, turn up the speed, blast toward the basket and deliver a layup with three seconds showing to give the Lions a 29-27 victory and a second-round opportunity in the District 1 Class 5A playoffs.
“We knew she would get there fast,” Harding said, “and we let her do her thing.”
By then, Harding had done her thing, too, muscling into the lane and scoring with 5.5 seconds left in regulation to force a 24-24 tie and the overtime. In a game where the host Lions (15-8) did not score a three-point shot, and where the defense from both teams was of championship quality, every point helped.
“I try to use my moves when I can,” Harding said, with a laugh. “But I use my strength a lot.”
As the Lions advanced, their strength was vivid Tuesday, particularly in the third quarter. That’s when they rallied from an 11-10 halftime deficit for a 13-12 lead by denying the Eagles a field goal. The only Shanahan points in the quarter came with nine-tenths of a second left on two Kathryn Greenhut free throws.
Greenhut’s pure, left-handed shooting form would matter later, too. That’s when she buried a three-pointer from the top of the key with 9.7 seconds remaining in overtime, forcing a 27-27 tie. By then, Greenhut had been dominating the defensive glass, particularly in the fourth quarter and overtime, giving the 11th-seeded Eagles a chance for the road upset.
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