Poly Prep never led until Lily Donahue’s 12-foot bank shot in the lane fell as the buzzer sounded.
“It was a lot of pressure, but at that moment I had confidence in myself,” the 6-foot-4 senior said. “I trusted myself to take that shot. It felt good as it left my hand.”
The basket gave the visiting Blue Devils a thrilling, 40-39 come-from behind win over St. Francis Prep last Thursday in non-league girls basketball, one coach Mike Junsch called the best in program history. Donahue scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Kerri Saputo, who fed Donahue on the winner, added 12 points on four 3-pointers. Katie Friel chipped in eight points, including two 3-pointers.
“It was ridiculous,” Donahue said of the celebration. “My team came over and grabbed me, mostly around my waist.”
Poly Prep, which trailed by as many as 12 points in the game, was down just one in the final 20 seconds. The Terriers had a chance to add to their lead, but missed four free throws, including two front ends of one-and-ones in the final 15 seconds. The Blue Devils (4-0) grabbed a miss with six seconds to go and raced up the court for the game-deciding bucket.
“We never sealed the deal,” SFP coach JoAnn Wagner said. “We didn’t play with the same level of intensity we needed to play with.”
Jenna Halaby and Katherine Kraus led St. Francis Prep with 14 points each. SFP (1-2) played its second straight game without forward Katie Pulido because of an ankle injury. Wagner credited Poly’s 3-point shooting and the slower pace of the game leading to her team growing complacent with leads. SFP led 15-5 after the first quarter and by five going into the fourth.
“We knew we couldn’t run with them,” Junsch said. “The game plan was to slow the tempo down and it worked.”
The win is a huge confidence booster for Poly, which is looking for its second straight Ivy League title. Junsch was pleased that his team didn’t quit and the character it showed even after strings of error or after St. Francis Prep dominated the boards in the final seconds.
“There were points that we all came over for timeouts and we would all just look at each other and be like ‘We want to win, we want this,’” Donahue said. “We knew and our coach knew that if we kept sticking to our offense and control the tempo of the game that we were going to break through.”