August 22, 2014

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Girls basketball: Brianna Shagovac steals the show in Amherst win

AMHERST — Brianna Shagovac may not have been the quickest girl in the Amherst gym Wednesday, but the senior guard was fast enough to beat the buzzer and Lorain High.

Shagovac knocked the ball out of the hands of the Titans’ Alex Harris at the top of the key, then drove the floor in the final four seconds to hit a floater as time expired, sending the Comets to a 36-34 win over Lorain in non-conference play.

“Right when I got the steal I just tried to go as fast as I could and get it off,” she said. “I tried to do a little floater to get it off fast, and right when I let go of it, I heard it (the buzzer) go off. So there was no way it was late.”

In fact, Shagovac’s play down the stretch was right on time for the Comets (10-3). Not only did she come up with the winner, she also set up the final play by stealing an inbounds pass with 52 seconds left and scoring to tie the game at 34.

Lorain (8-7) called a timeout to set up what it hoped would be a last shot for Harris, a 6-foot-3 Penn State recruit, but Shagovac had other plans.

“Coach said to get a stop here, just like you do every day in practice, get a stop,” Shagovac said of Comets coach John Rositano’s final timeout speech. “We all knew who it was going to. I told Syd (Sydney Falling) to get my girl, and I just took a chance at the ball. It worked, and we came up big.”

Shagovac had just over three seconds to drive the floor to beat the buzzer, and all she could think about was making the shot.

“I’m getting too old for finishes like this,” said a relieved Rositano after his team picked up its second buzzer-beating win in a week.

“I thought both teams gave an unbelievable effort out there,” he said. “I’m a Lorain guy and I teach in Lorain, so I’m every bit as proud of the Lorain girls as I am of my own. It took us to play extremely hard to knock them off at the buzzer, and I told them that this is the kind of game that is good for Lorain County girls basketball.”

Shagovac’s heroics made amends for a cold shooting night in which she missed her first 14 shots and the Comets shot just 20 percent from the field. Fortunately for the Comets, Shagovac connected on 8 of 10 free throws — and scored all five of the Comets’ points in the third quarter.

“It was frustrating because it was like I was letting my team down by not making my shots, but I had to keep playing defense,” Shagovac said. “Coach said keep playing, keep playing. I knew I had to come up big for my team, and I didn’t make my shots, so I had to come up big on defense. That’s what I did in the end.”

Both teams went toe-to-toe throughout the game with the biggest lead being a brief 10-point advantage for Amherst in the second quarter. Lorain shrank the margin to 28-24 after the third, and with a 10-2 run over a four-minute span of the fourth the Titans regained the lead on a basket from senior Ashley Malone at the 2:44 mark.

“I told the girls after that game that when you shoot just 20 percent from the field, but you play hard and you rebound hard and you play the right way, you still give yourself a chance to win,” Rositano said. “We had to grind it out tonight, and this is a great lesson for us. You’re not going to shoot 50 percent every time out, so you have to find a way to win these types of games.”

Lorain coach Mark Feldmann, though disappointed with the loss, was pleased with his team’s play against a tough opponent.

“We played some tremendous defense,” Feldmann said. “We made them work for everything they got, and that was our goal coming in. I thought we did everything we possibly could have done to win the game. It was two evenly matched teams. We matched everything they did and they matched everything we did.”

And with the game on the line, Feldmann knew exactly who he wanted to have the ball.

“I told them in that last timeout that we were not going to give that ball away,” he said. “The only thing that could cost us the game is if we give the ball away. I would do the same thing 20 more times.

“I had the ball in my best player’s hands at the top of the key and the clock was burning,” he said. “It got to seven, and maybe I should have waited till two to go, but we went at seven. She got stripped, but she hustled back and tried to block the shot. So what can you say?

“Somebody said that the clock went off before the ball went up, but I don’t know. You tell me.”

Lorain juniors Destiny Wilson and Onyx Lopez scored nine and eight points each, while Harris was held to just seven — and only two in the second half.

Amherst 36, Lorain 34

LORAIN (91): Alexandria Harris 3-1-7, Angelique Flores 2-0-4, Destiny Wilson 4-1-9, Ashley Malone 3-0-6, Onyx Lopez 3-1-8, Gretchen Conibear 0-0-0. Totals 15-3-34.

AMHERST (36): Morgan Dziak 2-0-6, Brianna Shagovac 3-8-14, Sydney Falling 3-0-8, Megan Salisbury 1-0-2, Brooke Wallace 3-0-6, Sheridan Champe 0-0-0. Totals 12-8-36.

Lorain 11 5 8 10 — 34

Amherst 13 10 5 8 — 36

Three-point goals: Lorain 1-3 (Lopez), Amherst 4-16 (Dziak 2, Falling 2). Field goals: Lorain 15-35 (43 percent), Amherst 12-60 (20 percent); Free throws: Lorain 3-12 (25 percent), Amherst 8-13 (62 percent); Rebounds: Lorain 34, Amherst 42; Turnovers: Lorain 19, Amherst 10. Junior varsity: Amherst, 37-18.

Contact John McDermott at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.