Knights beat buzzer

Silver Creek tops Gowanda on Douglas shot

OBSERVER Photo by Lisa Monacelli Gowanda’s Miya Scanlan dribbles against Silver Creek’s Emma Rice (right) Thursday night during a high school basketball game in Silver Creek.

SILVER CREEK — Sometimes it’s not about how you start. What matters is how you finish. After Thursday night, it’s safe to say Silver Creek sure knows how to finish.

The Silver Creek Black Knights girls basketball team came out with a thrilling 51-49 victory over the Gowanda Lady Panthers on Thursday night in Silver Creek.

Silver Creek (9-7, 3-5)did not have the start it had hoped for. Gowanda began the game on a 10-2 run, behind three field goals by Alexis Hawkins and a field goal and two free throws by Miya Scanlan. When the first quarter ended, Silver Creek trailed Gowanda 16-6.

Gowanda (6-11, 3-6) extended its lead to 14 points in the second quarter, and Silver Creek trailed at halftime 24-12. Scanlan had 12 points on her own for Gowanda.

In the third quarter, Silver Creek showed signs of life. Facing a 28-14 deficit, the Black Knights stormed back on a 14-2 run to cut the Gowanda lead to only two points, 30-28.

“In the locker room, we talked about closing the gap,” said Silver Creek coach Tammy Rice. “We really focused on coming out and taking a deep breath and collecting ourselves.”

After the third quarter, Silver Creek still trailed, but only slightly, 37-33, heading to the final period of play.

In the fourth quarter, the game began to slip away from Silver Creek again. After a layup by Hawkins that also drew a foul, the Lady Panthers rebounded the missed free throw and gave it back to Hawkins for another layup, and the Gowanda lead was back up to eight points.

Silver Creek cut it back to four, but Hawkins answered back with two buckets on back-to-back possessions, for a 47-39 lead with under three minutes to go.

As the scoreboard started running down into the final moments, Gowanda’s star, Scanlan, fouled out of the game with just over a minute to go. Hawkins was forced to leave, as well, leaving the Lady Panthers without its two leading scorers for the stretch run. The score was 47-40 Gowanda.

“Miya Scanlan and Alexis Hawkins are great players and they both went out,” said Rice. “That worked to our advantage.”

Gowanda committed two costly turnovers and missed key free throws down the stretch, which left the door open for Silver Creek ever so slightly.

Down 48-45 with just over 30 seconds remaining, eighth-grade standout Abby Rice drilled a three from the top of the key to tie the game.

“Abby hit that deep three at the top of the key (to tie it) … that was exactly what we needed,” said Rice.

Gowanda came back down the court quickly, and after a Silver Creek foul, Gowanda sophomore Nicole Whalen stepped to the free throw line with a chance to take the lead with 10.7 seconds remaining in the game. She missed the first, but made the second, giving Gowanda the lead, 49-48, with only seconds remaining.

After a pair of Silver Creek timeouts, the Black Knights inbounded the ball from half-court. Rice was guarded tightly, which opened up an opportunity for Tessa Douglas, the only senior on the team.

Douglas delivered, drilling a turn-around jumper to give Silver Creek its first lead since the first minute of the game.

“She came out and played an amazing second half … and then hit that big outside shot at the end. That was awesome,” said an emotional Coach Rice.

Gowanda turned the ball over on a long inbound pass, and after a free throw by Silver Creek and Gowanda’s inability to get off a last-second full-court heave, the Black Knights were sent jumping into each other’s arms near the bench for the thrilling victory.

“I am super excited for the girls,” said Rice. “Sometimes they struggle with believing in themselves. They really stepped up and played an amazing second half.”

Douglas finished with 12 points, all in the second half. She was second in points on the team, behind Abby Rice’s 19 points. Rice added ten rebounds and four blocks. Hawkins and Scanlan each had 19 points for Gowanda.

Silver Creek has three games in the final week of the regular season, including senior night for Douglas on Tuesday, but it’s safe to say that Thursday was the night to remember for the Silver Creek senior.

Twitter: @bradencarmen