Late bucket lifts Buckeye

Demetria Christian

CONNORVILLE — Tom Figurski found out a lot about his Buckeye Local girls’ basketball team Wednesday night.

Trailing visiting Linsly by 11 points after three quarters, he told his squad he was disappointed and thought they were better than they were showing. He left them with two words before sending them onto the court for the fourth quarter — “Prove it!”

Indeed they did.

The Panthers (4-0) remained unbeaten as freshman Demetria Christian meshed a jumper from the left wing with 20 seconds remaining that lifted the hosts to a thrill-packed, 60-59, triumph. It was Buckeye Local’s first lead since midway through the second quarter.

“Most definitely,” Figurski said when asked if his parting words were delivered. “We came out with a fire in the fourth quarter. We know what we are capable of and we finally did what we were supposed to do.”

Christian’s clutch basket was sandwiched by a pair of offensive foul calls on the Cadets, the final with 1.9 seconds left when Emily Holzopfel took a charge.

“We pressured them, which I thought we could’ve done the whole game,” he added. “Case in point was the charge that Emily took against No. 12 (Linsly’s Charlie Allison). That’s just a big-time play, just like a freshman hitting the go-ahead bucket to Alaire (Destifanes) shooting three foul shots.

“It was a total team effort and that’s what we like.”

Holzopfel netted 15 of her game-high 33 in the final quarter as the Panthers stormed back behind a tenacious fullcourt pressure defense that forced Linsly into 10 of its 24 turnovers in the fourth.

“Turnovers,” Linsly head coach Rebecca Upton said. “That’s all I have to say … turnovers.”

After Charlie Allison gave Linsly a 48-35 lead early in the fourth quarter, Buckeye Local took over as Holzopfel outscored the Cadets 8-3 during a two-minute span to make it 51-43. Molly Heron stopped the bleeding, but a basket by Audrey Sebring and a 3-pointer by Holzopfel cut the deficit to 53-48, prompting Upton to call timeout.

Down by six with two minutes left to play, Destifanes was fouled shooting a three-pointer. The senior tickled the twine on all three attempts as the margin was sliced in half, 57-54.

Linsly called timeout again, but once play resumed the Cadets turned the ball over again. This time Holzopfel nailed a jumper from the right baseline, but Linsly’s Carleigh Grimm answered at the other end for a 59-56 lead. Holzopfel repeated her earlier shot to make it 59-58 as Figurski called time with 57.3 seconds on the clock.

An offensive foul call on the Cadets gave the ball back to the Panthers with 41.3 seconds showing. Buckeye Local ran its offense as Linsly tried to deny Holzopfel the ball. When Christian found herself wide-open from about 12-feet out, she didn’t hesitate and buried the shot.

“We challenged them to be their best there at the end,” Figurski said. “Linsly came out and took it to us for the first three quarters. The built that lead there at the end of the third quarter. Kudos to them. They played well.

“Our girls responded to the challenge and that was good to see. I learned that we have a lot of heart. This is a special team this year. When we’re clicking on all cylinders we’re a fun team to watch. I think people saw in the fourth quarter when we took control that we believed we could win. We know where we are. We know where we want to be, and we’re going to achieve it this year.”

Destifanes supported Holzopfel with 13 points. Holzopfel completed a double-double with 10 rebounds, while Destifanes had eight assists.

Grimm led Linsly with 15 points. Allison finished with 12 markers and nine boards. Grimm added seven rebounds as Linsly led 31-19 off the glass.

Buckeye Local remains at home tonight as Beaver Local visits.

Buckeye Local 60, Linsly 59

Linsly 17-13-16-13 — 59

Buckeye Local 18-9-8-25 — 60

LINSLY (2-6): Allison 5 1-2 12; Grimm 7 1-3 15; Heitz 3 0-0 7; Heron 2 1-2 6; Steen 4 0-1 8; Menendez 1 0-0 3; Song 1 0-0 2; Giovengo 1 0-0 3; Heller 1 0-0 3; Totals: 25-53 3-8 59. BUCKEYE LOCAL (4-0): Holzopfel 13 6-8 33; Destifanes 4 4-5 13; Roski 2 0-0 4; Valuska 1 0-0 2; Christian 3 0-0 6; Carpico 0 0-0 0; Sebring 1 0-0 2; Totals: 24-53 10-13 60

3-Point Goals: Linsly 6 (Allison, Heitz, Heron, Menendez, Giovengo, Heller); Buckeye Local 2 (Holzopfel, Destifanes)