By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
ANDOVER TOWNSHIP —
Both the Perry Pirates and Lakeview Bulldogs have their go-to players looking for the big play or basket. However, it all came down to a freshman player stepping up at the end for the Bulldogs to claim a thrilling 56-54 overtime win over the Pirates in a Division II sectional championship at Pymatuning Valley.
After overcoming a nine-point Pirate lead late in the contest to tie the score at 48-48, following an Allie Pavlik layup, Perry senior Emily Clark broke the tie with a free throw with 1:05 to play in regulation. Rebecca Mansell gave the Bulldogs (18-5) a 50-49 edge with 53.1 seconds to play with a short jumper.
Two possessions later, both turnovers, Pavlik was whistled for her fifth foul of the game as Perry sophomore guard Brittany Levkulich (19 points, 6 rebounds) fired up a game-winning 3-point attempt.
Levkulich calmly nailed the first shot to tie the game with .2 seconds left.
“We’ve had a lot of time off the last couple weeks,” Lakeview coach Adam Lewis said. “After 10 straight days of practice, I figured we might be a little flat, and that’s the way we played early in the game. We were down, and we just didn’t want to lose that way.
“Other girls than our usual leaders needed to step up, and I can’t enough about how Rachel Calvin and Addison Becker made plays when we absolutely needed them.”
After Levkulich had her second free throw try go halfway down and roll out, a Bulldog timeout added to the tension. Her third try rolled off the right side of the rim, sending the game to an extra session.
“The ball just didn’t go in for Brittany at the end of regulation,” Pirate coach Mike Decker said. “I would be perfectly willing to put the ball in her hands in that situation every time. It just wasn’t going to be her moment.”
In the overtime, with Pavlik and senior post Lizzy Konitsney having both gone to the bench with five fouls, other Bulldogs had to step up, and they did.
“A box and one is hard to run plays off of on offense,” Pavlik said after her hard-earned 20 points night paced her team’s win. “You just have to depend on the other girls to score. We are far from a one-man team, though, and every person who played made big plays to either get us back in the game or at the end, to win it.”
After being shut down much of the middle portion of the game, Pavlik broke loose for 11 fourth period points.
“We had Celeste Farrell guarding Pavlik most of the night,” Decker said. “I thought she did a great job, especially in the half court game. Toward the end, though, she (Pavlik) got free in transition and scored a few. We knew coming in she was their go-to scorer, and we wanted the other four girls on the floor to beat us. They just had other girls step up and make big plays, just one more than we had.”
Tied in overtime at 52 after Calvin’s only basket and a jumper from Levkulich tied it up, Becker nailed a jumper in the lane and Clark responded for Perry (10-14) with 1:43 left to set the stage for a grand finale.
Becker nailed another jumper from about 10 feet out with 43 seconds on the clock.
Another exchange of turnovers set the stage for another final thrust at the hoop by the Pirates and in a tangled mess of feet and arms and bodies, Perry lost the ball out of bounds as time expired.
“We took care of the ball when we had to,” Lewis said after his team and the Pirates combined for 54 turnovers. “Now we get to play Geneva for the fifth time in the last four years at this level again.”
Pavlik’s 20 and the 12 points of Mansell, coupled with seven assists, led the way for Lakeview.
Perry got Levkulich’s 19 points along with 13 from Clark and 12 more from Kayla Cool.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.