Waverly girls edge Notre Dame in OT for division title
SOUTHPORT, N.Y. - After Waverly and Notre Dame finally finished on Saturday the two sets of fans may not have been able to agree on much but there was one thing they could see eye to eye on: that this game was an instant classic.
Coming in Notre Dame needed a win to force a playoff for the division title. Their seniors were also playing their last regular season game on their home court, adding even more emotion to the game.
"I was a little nervous," Waverly's Reylyn Schwartzhoff said about the game. "We beat them before but I knew they were going to come out with a fight and try to get us."
"We knew it was going to be a hard day," teammate Sabrina Bowman added. "We knew it was going to determine history but since we pulled it off it just feels great."
The Crusaders came out strong and put Waverly on the ropes late in the game but the Wolverines were undefeated on the year for a reason. Unfazed by the deficit and the intensity in the building they made the plays they needed to late, forced overtime and ended up pulling out a 77-75 girls' basketball win to claim the IAC South Large School Division title.
Sabrina Bowman led the Wolverines with 28 points and five assists while Schwartzhoff added a double-double of 26 points and and 13 boards, including six offensive rebounds that usually ended with points for Waverly.
"It felt pretty good," she said about her rebounding.
In the opening quarter Waverly's top scoring duo of Sabrina Bowman and Reylyn Schwartzhoff combined for all of their 17 points. Notre Dame hung tough, scoring 16 points with five different players finding the bottom of the net.
In the second quarter the Crusaders saw themselves take a 24-21 lead off a 6-point spurt. Waverly's Emily Walker ended the run with a three to knot the game at 24-all.
Off a Jenna Bowman three the Wolverines took a 27-25 lead but again Notre Dame rallied, scoring six straight points to takea 31-27 advantage.
Waverly would knot it up at 33-all but two late free throws by Notre Dame's Olvia May gave the home team a 35-33 lead going into the half.
The Crusaders extended that lead to 40-35 early in the third quarter off a three from Sheridan Heine and another May bucket. That's when Waverly went on a run of their own, scoring eight straight points sparked by back to back threes from Sabrina Bowman to take a 43-40 advantage.
Notre Dame retook the lead off back to back buckets from May and Jennifer Smithers, going up 44-43. A Sabrina Bowman assist to Schwartzhoff put the Wolverines back on top but not for long.
Notre Dame ended the quarter on a 9-1 run, finished off by a May lay-up, to take a 53-46 lead into the fourth quarter.
They extended the lead to 55-46 to start the final frame but a pair of Waverly free throws by Victoria Cron cut it back to 55-48.
The two teams exchanged buckets until the 4:40 mark when Waverly began a 6-point spurt to cut the Crusader lead to 63-60.
Notre Dame pushed the lead back to seven points off two May freebies and a Kaylan Curran driving lay-up. Down 67-60 with 2:20 left in the game things were beginning to look bleak for the Wolverines.
"We knew we needed to keep our composure," Sabrina Bowman remarked. "Once we got our composure, once we got our defense I knew it was going to be good."
They responded with a quick five point burst. Schwartzhoff hit the offensive boards and earned a trip to the foul line, making both freebies. Then Emiley Myers found Sabrina Bowman for a three to cut it to 67-65 with 1:50 left in the contest.
Then after a Notre Dame turnover Waverly tied it up on two free throws by Sabrina Bowman with 1:21 left to play.
That's Heine acted, immediately driving the ball into the Waverly paint and earning a trip to the free throw line for her effort. She hit both to put the Crusaders back up 69-67 with 1:16 left to play.
At the other end Waverly turned it over with 1:00 to go, then was called for a foul with 41.2 seconds to play. Up two it looked like Notre Dame would take the shot clock as far as they could before getting a shot off.
However, the Waverly defense responded, forcing a turnover with 18 seconds to play.
Down by two Sabrina Bowman looked to end it with a three as the clock hit single digits but it bounced off. The rebound was up for grabs but ended up out of bounds on the baseline Notre Dame ball.
Things looked even grimmer for the Wolverines. So bad, in fact, fans could be heard talking about the rematch that would be needed had Notre Dame won.
With 7.1 seconds to go the Crusaders inbounded but as May tried to dribble away from the pressure she fell and was called for a travel.
With just 4.7 seconds left but under their own basket Waverly ran a play they knew would get them a good shot. Schwartzhoff cut across the paint, caught the ball at the right block and put up the shot.
She banked it home, sending the game into overtime.
"I was a really nervous," Schwartzhoff said the play.
She knew that it was designed for her. "At that point we just came up with it at the sidelines to get me the ball that fast," Schwartzhoff explained.
The bucket not only kept Waverly alive, it gave them a big jolt of momentum.
"Once we got that play it felt like a fire set under us," Sabrina Bowman remarked.
In the extra period Schwartzhoff put the Wolverines up off a put back but once again Heine found her way to the foul line at the other end. She hit both tie it back up at 71-all.
The Crusaders took a lead with 2:26 left to play as May blocked a shot, drove the length of the court and hit the lay-up while getting fouled. She missed the free throw but now Notre Dame led 73-71.
Schwartzhoff struck back for Waverly. She once again hit the offensive boards and nailed the put back to tie it up at 73-all.
After a Notre Dame miss at the other end Myers came down and calmly hit a deep 2-pointer to put Waverly up 75-73 with 1:36 left to play.
Heine tied it up with 1:24 left off another foray into the paint.
With the game tied at 75-all Waverly would turn it over with 36.3 seconds left to play overtime period. Notre Dame had a chance to take the lead but a cross court pass was intercepted by Jenna Bowman. The guard quickly rushed it up court and headed straight for the basket.
"All that was going through my head was get to the basket," Jenna Bowman explained. "I didn't really have time to pull out and wait for my team so you just have to go and get what you can."
She didn't make the lay-up but was fouled in the process with 18.4 seconds left to play and hit both freebies to put Waverly up 77-75.
"I was just trying to think it was a regular game and not try and put too much pressure on myself," she said. "It helped because my cousin Sabrina (Bowman) told me to call down and take my time. It helped and I took my time and shot those two the best I could."
Waverly's defense hung strong, including a Sabrina Bowman block shot with five seconds to go. Notre Dame had one last chance as May got into the lane and put up a jumper but it rolled off as the buzzer sounded and Waverly's record continued to be blemish free.
"It's amazing," Jenna Bowman said about going through the regular season undefeated. "To be a senior its unbelievable. To think we could actually make it this far. It's amazing to feel like this."
"Know that we made history, going 17-0 in 25 years, it feels great," her cousin Sabrina Bowman added.
Jenna gives credit to their coach Brian Miller.
"Without our coach we couldn't do any of this," she said. "He knows exactly who we are and has been with us forever."
The victory also gives Waverly the division title.
"It feels really good," Schwartzhoff said about claiming the title. "It makes me happy that our seniors got to experience that."
Myers added six points while Jenna Bowman and Jordan Raupers had five each. Jenna Bowman also picked up six steals.
Emily Walker added four points while Victoria Cron finished with three points.
Notre Dame boasted four players in double figures, led by Heine's 24 points. At times she looked unstoppable, especially when she found her way into the paint.
May added 19, Mara Skordynski netted 14 and Curran added 13. Smithers and Megan O'Dell had two points each while Emily Carson added one.
Waverly will now travel to Tompkins Community College on Thursday for a 6 p.m. match-up with the Large School North winners Lansing to decide the overall IAC title.
It will take a lot for that game to reach the intensity of this one, though.
There was a playoff atmosphere right from the very beginning. The game itself was chippy, an intensity fanned by the two teams' fans who made their presence known throughout the contest.
"It was rough," Sabrina Bowman described. "Very intense."
However, she was happy with how it went and looks forward for more like it the rest of the season.
"These are the game I like to play, though," Sabrina Bowman explained. "The ones that are intense, the ones that are not blow-outs."