By Rob Potter
LIVINGSTON MANOR February 6, 2001 -Whether one refers to them as foul shots, free throws or trips to the charity stripe, the shots taken by a basketball player after he or she has been fouled are often the most important of the game.
The Livingston Manor Lady Wildcats certainly believe in that theory. On Friday night the Lady Wildcats made 14-of-18 foul shots in the fourth quarter to post a 45-36 win over Sullivan West/Delaware Valley in an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V contest.
Manor (75, 42 OCIAA) was especially proficient at the foul line in the final minute-and-a-half of the game. The Lady Wildcats calmly sank nine of 12 free throws in that time span, turning a 36-33 advantage into a nine-point win.
Until those last ninety seconds however, the games flow was like that of a see-saw. Each time one team grabbed a two or three point lead, the opposing squad came right back with a basket to tie the score or regain the lead. While SW/DV (77, 43 Division V) took a 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, Manor took a 20-18 advantage into the locker room and maintained a 29-28 lead at the conclusion of the third period.
Manor took the lead for good with 2:58 left in the game when junior forward Bridget Ellison converted a layup. That gave the Lady Wildcats a 34-33 advantage.
Considering that when the teams met back on January 11 in Callicoon, the Lady Eagles won by a 49-47 margin, the fact that this game was close and competitive came as no surprise.
We expected it to be a close game, Manor coach Gail Whaley said. But we had the homecourt advantage tonight. And we played excellent defense.
Of course, Whaley also noted the key factor in the contest.
We made 17 of 24 free throws tonight, she commented. Thats a very good percentage. Obviously the free throws helped us. If we hadnt made those shots the game would have been different.
Nicole Argent led the Manor offense with 16 points, while Ellison recorded a double-double by netting 11 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
Lady Wildcat point guard Rachelle Irwin added 11 points, the bulk of which came at the foul line as Lady Eagle players fouled Irwin and her teammates to conserve precious seconds in the games final minutes. Irwin made nine of 10 free throws in the final period.
SW/DV coach Patti Roche noted that her players didnt handle the last minute-and-a-half of the game as well as they could have.
Basically, I think they got a little nervous at that point, Roche said. They were worried because they knew they had to get the ball in the basket and then fouled to try and stop the clock. I believed we could pull it out, but it didnt happen.
Calley Sander, who finished with 16 points, was the only Lady Eagle to reach double figures. Megan Moran added nine points for SW/DV.