CANTON - As overtime began in Thursday nights NAC Central Division Girls Basketball between OFA and Canton the courtside music played the theme from Rocky.
And rightly so as both the host Bears and the Devils displayed heart, determination and resiliency taking each others best shot and bouncing back behind hard-nosed defensive play.
Canton (10-2 Central, 15-2), which entered the game ranked third in the NYS Class Poll poll, erased an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to secure a 49-45 overtime victory and claimed sole control of its first division title since 1985. OFA (8-4, 12-5) carried a number 20 state Class B ranking into the contest where the Devils were looking to gain a share of their programs first division title since 1993.
The Bears prevailed on the strength of an 18 (18-28)-13 (13-29) advantage from the foul line sparked by forward Emily Pinckney who went 6-6 from the foul line in the fourth quarter where she scored her 10-point total for the evening.
Emily (Pinckney) was so clam and collected on the line. She was really clutch and our defense is what turned it around for us, said Canton Coach Mike Meyers after the overtime where his team built a 47-42 lead with 1:56 to play but needed to survive a good-look three-point attempt by the Devils with two seconds to play.
I just couldnt be prouder of this team. We had another great game with OFA and to be able to come back from 11 points down in the fourth quarter was a tremendous effort.
OFA Coach Lynn Blevins spoke of the effort his team put forth as they methodically opened a 37-26 lead after three quarters. The Devils never led by less six points after two threes by Meg Dodge and one by Riley Luckie sparked a 13-7 first quarter margin.
This group of girls has worked very hard all season and they worked hard again tonight. Canton did a good job with its defense in the second half and was able speed us up on offense, said Blevins.
And when things got very physical in the fourth quarter they did a very job with it. But we were able to get the shot were looking for at the end of overtime.
Canton gained its first lead of the game at 42-40 with 2:01 remaining in the fourth quarter when Emma Rexford swished a three-pointer. OFAs Shannon Tooley answered with a putback which created a 42-42 tie which remained over the final 30.6 seconds of regulation.
Rexford (6 rebounds, 3 assists) tallied a game-high 18 points capped with three free throws in overtime. Emily Pinckney finished with a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double and Tori Daley (5 rebounds, 3 steals) scored seven points over the second and third quarter to envigorate the Canton offense which was stymied by OFAs defense for much of the first half.
Kali Frank (6 points, 5 rebounds) produced the only field goal of the overtime and Katie Christy (2 points, 5 rebounds) added a pair of free throws. Kaeli Mace (2 points) also grabbed five rebounds and Rachel Sanderson and Taylor Reed each added field goals.
Meg Dodge and Riley Luckie (3 assists) both buried two threes scoring 12 and 11 points for OFA while Susie Morrow tallied seven points and grabbed nine rebounds along with Courtney Sherwin (1 point).
Felicia Barr hit 5-6 free throws scoring seven points with eight rebounds and Shannon Tooley finished with six points and eight rebounds. Jocelyn Fifield added a free throw in overtime.
The Canton JVs completed a perfect season in a 38-27 victory led by 12 points from Natalie DiSalvo and 10 from Hannah Wilson.
OFA, which was cited by Coach Jade Vernsey for dramatic improvement in the home stretch of the season, was paced by a 10-point, 10-rebound effort from Kristen Snyder who snatched three steals in the contest. Taylor Perry netted six points, Erin Tooley pulled down 10 rebounds and Kiera Johnson passed out three assists.
Massena 60, Salmon River 44: The Raiders broke the game open with a 21-6 third-quarter run as Alisha Jacobs fired through a game-high 20 points, including five three-pointers. Marissa Manley worked the paint for 16 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. Taylor Francis led the Lady Shamrocks with 13 points followed by Abby Kelly with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Potsdam 68, Gouverneur 45: The Stoners (3-9, 5-12) sealed their third win in a row with a 20-9 fourth-quarter surge as Shanielle Chambers pumped through a game-high 22 points followed closely by sophomore Sarah Vivlamore, who drained four three-pointers, in a 21-point effort. Rachel Knowlton paced the Wildcats (2-14, 2-10) with 14 points.