CONNEAUT — Conneaut’s Izzy Danforth wasn’t having the best shooting night.
But the junior guard calmly nailed a wide-open game-winning 3-pointer from the right corner with 4.5 seconds left to give the Spartans a 62-58 victory Friday night in non-conference action against the St. John Heralds.
Senior guard Emily Cevera scored the game’s first six points for the Heralds to give her 1,001 in her career.
St. John had led 58-57 after senior guard Sydney Carpenter made a free throw with 15.9 seconds left to break a tie.
Spartans senior forward Annalee Hagstrom, who had a career-high 31 points, had the ball in the paint, but spotted an open Danforth who nailed the jumper. Danforth scored eight points on 2-for-9 shooting, including her game-winner.
“Honestly I was like ‘I gotta make this or we’re done’. I thought ‘shoot it’ and it went in,” Danforth said. “The adrenaline that went through me was crazy. I put trust in myself and followed through on the shot. I wasn’t making them earlier in the game, but I came through.”
St. John had a chance to score with just seconds remaining, but couldn’t get the ball inbounds and turned the ball over with a 5-second violation. The Heralds immediately fouled Hagstrom, who converted both free throws with 3.4 seconds remaining to ice the game for Conneaut.
Conneaut coach Tony Pasanen said he was proud of his team’s effort in the second half and credited Hagstrom with making the right decision to pass the ball to Danforth who made the shot.
“Annalee has that ability, tonight she showed it all posting up, hitting mid-range shots, knocking down free throws,” Pasanen said. “I just wish we would see that every game — that confidence.”
Hagstrom was proud of her teammates and credited Danforth for making the game-winning shot.
“It’s crazy I didn’t think I had anywhere near that much and made some good plays,” Hagstrom said regarding her own offensive showing. “Everybody really stepped up tonight, especially Izzy with that last shot. With a 3-17 season right now it’s a lot for us to win and it’s definitely a motivator for these last two games against Badger and [Pymatuning Valley].”
Carpenter led the Heralds with 21 points, including six 3-pointers, while junior Lati Fleming added 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Cevera then exited the game as she has been battling a knee injury all season and hadn’t played in the team’s last two games due to illness.
Both teams agreed ahead of time to allow Cevera to score three uncontested layups and to have the Spartans also score six points on uncontested layups.
The Spartans led
most of the second half but the Heralds kept the game within four points in the final two quarters.
St. John briefly took the lead once in the third quarter at 46-45, and then again in the fourth quarter leading 53-52 as the teams took turns with the lead until the Spartans sealed it with Danforth’s game-winner.
“It was a great effort tonight, we had a tough loss [Wednesday],” St. John coach Nick Iarocci said. “We lost by one and had a shot at the buzzer and we missed it, so I was very concerned.
“Our kids responded. I’m not really big on moral victories, but I can’t be more proud of a group of girls. We battled Conneaut on their senior night and a tough place to play and we were in it until the very end and had the lead with 45 seconds left, but we didn’t close it out. But I’m super proud of the effort.”
With the victory,
Conneaut improved to 3-17 on the season, while St. John ended the regular season at 8-14.
St. John will host Newbury in a Division IV sectional semifinal tournament game at 7 p.m. Wednesday, while Conneaut at Badger at 5:30 p.m. today for a regular-season contest.