PITTSBURG — Homecoming at St. Mary's Colgan provided one of the most exciting nights of local high school basketball this season, as the Panther girls' team beat Baxter Springs 34-31 in the closing seconds of the contest, and Dominic Piccini came through with a game-winning layup in overtime to give the SMC boys’ team a 54-53 win.
COLGAN BOYS WIN IN OVERTIME
Piccini ended up being the hero of the game, converting on a contested layup to put the Panthers ahead 54-53 with three seconds remaining in the overtime period, which ended up being the difference in a game full of twists and turns.
“Keeping our kids composed and their wits about them was key,” SMC head coach Wayne Cichon said. “Being into the game mentally is very important in game like that and I felt like our kids did that right down to the end.”
After coming up short on a potential game-winner at the end of regulation, the Panthers came out refocused in overtime.
Four consecutive points put SMC ahead 51-47, before Baxter came up with two points to cut the deficit to 51-49.
Billy Dickey drew a foul with 25 seconds left and split a pair of free throws to increase the lead by one 52-49.
Down by three, the Lions quickly pushed the ball up the floor, getting the ball to Trey White, who drew a foul on an off-balance 3-pointer, which he managed to make and convert the free throw to complete a rare four-point play, giving the Lions the lead with 10 seconds remaining.
Following the free throw and a Colgan timeout, Piccini got the ball on the right wing, drove towards the basket and hit a difficult layup in traffic just before the final horn sounded to give the Panthers the win.
“Dominic knew that we had to take the ball to the rim when we threw the ball in with 10 seconds to go,” Cichon said. “I’m sure Baxter’s coach probably told his players not to foul and put us on the line to win the game. Not only did they not foul, they ended up relaxing too much on defense, letting us go right to the rim and Dominic hit a nice shot.”
Simon Higginbotham was also instrumental in the win, pouring in 23 points and grabbing four rebounds and an assist.
SMC GIRLS HOLD ON FOR WIN
Emotions ran high inside SMC Fieldhouse, as the Panther girls won 34-31 in a highly competitive and controversial contest.
After going on a 12-4 run to end the third quarter, Colgan went into the final eight minutes of regulation holding a five-point lead and managed to hang on for the win despite being held to two points in the quarter.
"I really don’t know how we won after scoring only two points in the fourth,” SMC head coach Abby Farabi said. “I thought we did a good job of taking time off the clock. We weathered the storm and we didn’t do a very good job of defending Delaney Barnes. She’s a really good player and we let her do whatever she wanted, but I thought our guards defended well tonight. They’re starting to get more confidence and depend on each other. We really wanted to win tonight and it showed.”
The Lions held a one-point lead halfway through the third quarter, but a layup by Cathy Farmer gave SMC the lead and was the start of a 12-4 run, which gave the Panthers a 32-23 lead.
Baxter responded with six unanswered points to begin the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 32-31 and force Colgan into a timeout.
The Panthers' lead remained at one point for over six minutes of game time, until Farmer hit a pair of clutch free throws with 10 seconds remaining in regulation to ice the win.
"Being scrappy is how we win games,” Farabi said. “If we can’t put the ball in the hole on offense, we sure have to pick it up on defense. I thought we did a great job on our pressure, we minimized their looks and generated some steals. Marci was able to do a lot in the first half especially and I just thought overall that our pressure and rebounding was great tonight.”
A physical first quarter saw the Lions outscore the Panthers 9-7, with 10 free throws being made between both teams.
The first field goal in the game was a midrange jumper by Aubri Piccini at the 3:30 mark to give the Panthers a 7-5 lead.
Baxter answered with back-to-back baskets to end the quarter with a 9-7 lead.
The Panthers took over in the second quarter, going on a 10-1 run to go up 17-10 with three minutes left in the first half.
The run included four points apiece from Emily Paternity and Farmer, and two points by Marci VanBecelaere.
Baxter scored five consecutive points to end the run, but a free throw by Piccini put the Panthers up 18-15 going into the break at halftime.
The Lions outscored SMC 6-2 to go up 21-20 in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Panthers pulled away for the win.
Farmer was the leading scorer with 13 points and five rebounds.
Paterni grabbed 11 rebounds, scored eight points and notched five assists.
Colgan will hit the road to take on Columbus at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
-- Jordan Buckamneer is a sports reporter of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @jbuckamneer.