HENRIETTA TWP. — During the regular season, Firelands dominated Patriot Athletic Conference opponents, winning all 16 games.
It’s a cliché that virtually every coach uses when the playoffs roll around — the regular season is over and every team is 0-0.
Behind a dominant fourth quarter from senior Darcy Irish and clutch free-throw shooting from freshman McKenah Peters, Keystone became the first PAC team to knock off the Falcons, clinching a Division II sectional title with a 49-44 win.
Irish grabbed seven of her game-high 14 rebounds in the final quarter and had a pair of critical steals in the final minute of play that led to free throws. Peters went 4-for-4 from the line in the final 5.3 seconds of the game to seal the victory.
Keystone, the fifth seed in the Division II Elyria bracket, trailed 44-41 after Firelands junior Brandi Holowecky hit a layup at the 2:05 mark, but the Wildcats closed the game on an 8-0 run.
“We battled every possession,” Keystone coach Scott Terry said. “The first two games we played them this year, we played them tough, but didn’t execute in the fourth quarter. Tonight, it was a different story and we got the job done.”
The Falcons (21-3) had an eight-point lead midway through the second quarter, but Keystone was able to cut it to two points, 23-21 at halftime. In the third quarter the Wildcats took a brief lead, 24-23, but the Falcons took the lead back and led by four points, 29-25, before Keystone tied the game with a 10-6 run to end the quarter.
In the final period the Falcons could not shake the Wildcats. The lead changed hands five times before Holowecky’s layup.
Peters was fouled at the 5.3 mark.
Firelands tried to ice her at the line with a timeout. Then, after the timeout, there was another delay when the clock operator had a medical condition and had to be replaced.
It didn’t matter. Peters calmly connected on both free throws, then stole the inbounds pass and was fouled again with 3.5 remaining.
The freshman was actually smiling and joking around with her teammates during the delay.
“I knew I couldn’t block their student section out, so I just enjoyed it,” Peters said. “When I hit the first one a little of the pressure went away. Then I hit the second one and we had a three-point lead.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Keystone 49, Firelands 44
KEYSTONE (49): Madi Bonner 1-0-3, Darcy Irish 6-2-14, Jillian Peters 0-0-0, McKenah Peters 2-7-13, Roni Benko 1-0-3, Sammie Stefan 5-2-12, Jena Copley 2-0-4, Reagan Ford 0-0-0. Totals 17-11-49.
FIRELANDS (44): Cassandra Morrissette 2-8-14, Alyssa Melendez 2-0-4, Brandi Holowecky 2-3-7, Heather Smyth 1-0-2, Keely Hall 3-5-11, Haleigh Bari 0-0-0, Taylor Young .Kaitlyn Michener 0-0-0, Rebecca Myers 3-0-6, Victoria Grasso 0-0-0. Totals 13-16-44.
Keystone 5 16 14 14 — 49
Firelands 10 13 12 9 — 44
Three-point goals: Keystone 4-8 (M. Peters 2, Benko, Bonner), Firelands 0-4. Field goals: Keystone 17-52 (32.6 percent), Firelands 13-42 (30.9 percent); Free throws: Keystone 11-16 (68.7 percent), Firelands 16-24 (66.6 percent); Rebounds: Keystone 48 (Irish 14, M. Peters 11, Stefan 10), Firelands 30 (Hall 10). Turnovers: Keystone 17, Firelands 18. Total fouls: Keystone 17, Firelands 17. Fouled out: Benko, Morrissette, Hall.