ANSONIA – Parkway scored with just seven seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime on Saturday, eventually beating the Ansonia girls basketball team 70-65.
Ansonia played well in the game, coach Jim Bolin said, but the Tigers had some mistakes that cost them a potential victory on senior day.
“We played well,” he said. “We just made a few mistakes, especially at the end. Critical mistakes. A minute-something to go, there’s no reason to shoot the ball, and we shot two shots, and it come back to bite us.”
The game started with Parkway on fire from the outside as Sarah Gehron and Sydney Crouch combined to hit three 3-pointers in the first 90 seconds of the contest. After Haley Hawk went inside for four points, Alisa Gray added a long-distance shot to give Parkway a 16-6 lead just over three minutes into the game.
“When I scouted them they had one kid shot from the perimeter,” Bolin said. “Today, everybody was shooting from the perimeter. They surprised me. The kids withheld that and come back and made a ball game out of it.”
Trailing by 10, Ansonia battled back to close the gap. Abby Helmke, Bailey Stammen and Jailyn Thwaits helped the Tigers outscore the Panthers 14-6 the rest of the quarter to reduce their deficit to just two points, 22-20.
In the first minute of the second quarter Stammen made a game-tying basket, and Brooke Neal drained a 3-pointer to give Ansonia its first lead of the game, 25-22.
But over the course of the next five minutes Parkway outscored Ansonia 12-3 to regain the lead, 34-28.
Led by Stammen, Helmke and Stefani Garrett, Ansonia again mustered another strong run to reduce the deficit to two points, 38-36, at halftime.
After constantly having to fight to keep up with Parkway in the first half, Ansonia started to get things rolling in the third quarter. Neal drained three 3-pointers in the period to go along with baskets by Helmke and Stammen, giving Ansonia a 51-47 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Ansonia held off Parkway early in the fourth quarter and led by four, 58-54, with less than two minutes remaining.
It remained a four-point game until Parkway’s Hawk scored with just 1:32 left to cut the Panther deficit to two points. Ansonia countered with a basket by Thwaits, but Parkway responded with a Bailey Bates basket to again make it a two-point game with just over a minute remaining.
Ansonia’s efforts to keep the ball away from Parkway faltered in the closing moments as the Tigers missed some shots and also were called for an offensive foul.
“Like I said, you’ve got to know the game of basketball, and you’ve got to know when to execute and when to keep the ball and protect it and shoot the basketball,” Bolin said. “We just made a couple critical errors at the end.”
Parkway missed a potential game-tying shot with less than 15 seconds remaining but kept possession of the ball on a jump ball. The Panthers then got it to Gehron under the basket, and she scored with seven seconds remaining to tie the game at 60-60 and force overtime.
Ansonia scored first in overtime with two Garrett free throws. Parkway then tied the game with a basket by Bates and went ahead with a basket by Gehron.
Parkway went up by four with two Gehron free throws with less than 30 seconds remaining, but Neal kept Ansonia in the game with her sixth 3-pointer of the day, reducing the deficit to a single point.
After Gehron drained two more free throws, Ansonia missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer. After a desperation foul by Ansonia, Gehron sank two more free throws to seal the 70-65 overtime win for Parkway.
Neal led Ansonia with 21 points in the loss. Also for the Tigers, Helmke scored 16 points, Stammen scored 14, Thwaits scored 10, and Garrett scored four.
Gehron led Parkway with a game-high 22 points. Also for the Panthers, Hawk scored 18 points, Crouch scored 15, Bates scored eight, Gray scored three, Ashley Clark scored two, and Samantha Wehe scored two.
Ansonia fell to 11-9 with the loss while Parkway improved to 6-12. The Tigers will return to action on Thursday at Bradford in their Cross County Conference season finale.
Prior to the game against Parkway, Ansonia honored its three seniors – Helmke, Neal and Katie Overholser – who played in their final home high school basketball game on Saturday.
“Brooke Neal, she’s an outstanding basketball player, good shooter and a better person than she is a basketball player,” Bolin said. “I’ve had her three years since I’ve been here, all three years, and believe it or not the first two years I had to talk her into coming out to play basketball. I can’t say enough good things about Brooke on and off the court.”
“Abby, she’s capable like tonight you see she can come out and score a bunch of points for you. Abby’s been plagued by a few injuries here the last two years, but I’m going to miss her, also.”
“And then Katelynn, Katelynn is just a fun kid. She keeps things lively, and we’re going to miss her role as a role player.”