By Rob Potter
HANCOCK March 2, 2007 On Tuesday night, the Livingston Manor Lady Wildcats ensured that their basketball season would continue for at least one more game.
But it certainly wasn’t easy.
Manor (9-9) rallied from a six-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to record a 51-47 victory over The Family School Lady Falcons in a Section IX Class D quarterfinal game in The Family School’s gymnasium, which is known as “The Falcons’ Nest.”
The Lady Wildcats, who are the No. 5 seed in the Class D tournament, advanced to the semifinals. They were scheduled to play at top-seeded John A. Coleman Catholic High School in Hurley last night in a semifinal contest.
However, Manor’s semifinal berth was was not guaranteed until the final buzzer sounded on Tuesday night.
With 7:16 remaining in the fourth quarter, The Family School’s Jessica Fairweather swished a 3-point shot to give her team a 39-33 lead.
Following a timeout, Manor’s Rose Curtis made a 15-foot shot in the lane. The basket pulled the Lady Wildcats to within four points at 39-35.
Twenty seconds later, Lady Falcon starting shooting guard Claire Meehan fell to the floor while holding her ankle. After Family School Coach Carlton Williams and Assistant Coach Peggy McCarthy checked Meehan’s ankle, they helped her to the team bench. Meehan remained on the sideline for the rest of the game with a bag of ice covering her ankle.
On the next Manor possession, Angela Trotti put back a missed shot to make it a two-point game.
Twenty-five seconds later, Lady Wildcat guard Marissa Diescher stole the ball near halfcourt and sprinted to the Manor basket. Fairweather was right behind Diescher and tried to block her layup.
As the ball fell through the net to tie the score at 39-39, Diescher and Fairweather inadvertently got their feet tangled and they both fell down out of bounds under the backboard. Diescher got up within a couple of seconds, but Fairweather stayed on the floor in obvious pain.
Williams and McCarthy rushed to Fairweather’s side and helped her to the bench, where she elevated her ankle and covered it with ice.
Over the next minute and a half, Manor took a 45-39 lead on a pair of baskets by Jackie Trotti and a successful shot by Megan Ellison.
With 38 seconds remaining, Diescher nailed a 10-foot jump shot to give the Lady Wildcats a 51-44 lead.
When the clock stopped with 30 seconds left, Fairweather checked back into the game. She wasted little time in making a difference, nailing a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining to close the Manor lead to four points, 51-47.
The Lady Falcons had only one more possession in the contest. Fairweather shot a 3-pointer from well beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc with two seconds left, but the ball grazed off the rim and fell to the floor. Even if the shot had been good, The Family School would have been a point short of forcing overtime.
When the buzzer sounded, the Lady Wildcats gathered near their bench and excitedly exchanged high fives and hugs.
Jackie Trotti made a pair of 3-pointers on the way to scoring a game-high 21 points. Desirae Dutcher had nine points, Diescher netted eight points and Rose Curtis added six points for Manor.
Despite missing about five minutes of action in the fourth quarter, Fairweather paced the Lady Falcons’ offense with 18 points. She swished four 3-pointers in the contest.
Mary Schmieder and Bianca Eldorado added 15 points and seven points, respectively, for The Family School.
“It’s always tough to play up here,” Manor Coach Kevin Clifford said of The Family School gym. “But our girls played with a lot of heart. I think Jackie Trotti played her best game of the season offensively and Desirae Dutcher made some big shots in the second half.”
Clifford noted that it was a shame that Fairweather and Meehan both suffered injuries late in the game.
“But their team didn’t get down whatsoever,” he said. “They kept hustling and playing hard, they showed a lot of heart.”
Like Clifford, Williams hated to see two of his players get hurt. But the Lady Falcons’ leader was pleased with how all of his players performed in the game.
“They didn’t give up or quit at any time,” Williams said. “They kept playing hard the entire game.
“Manor is a very good team and we wish them the best of luck against Coleman,” Williams added.
The game marked the final scholastic hoops contest for five Lady Falcon seniors Angela Andrechyn, Eldorado, Fairweather, Sarah Luce and Schmieder.
“Overall, we had a 14-7 record and it was a pretty good season,” Williams commented. “This was a great group of girls and I would coach them all again if I could.”