By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
BROADALBIN -- Her team's 13-point lead all but evaporated, Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots sophomore Nicole Traver was fouled with 20.2 seconds to play in a rivalry game with the Johnstown Lady Bills Monday night.
A reserve for the team forced into crunch-time action after an injury to star player Kaitlin Wood and the disqualification of Ciarra Dickson, Traver hesitantly walked the length of the court to shoot her 1-and-1, her team up just a point in the Foothills Council tussle.
Then, calmly, Traver swished home a pair of free throws to seal the Lady Patriots the victory, a 39-37 heart-pounder of a win for B-P. Johnstown made one free throw and missed an attempt at a game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds after Traver's shots.
"I was just trying to take my time and not be nervous because I knew the game was kind of on the line at that point," Traver said.
"This is a big win for our program," said B-P head coach Michael Magliocca. "Since I've been here, we haven't beat Johnstown. ... We needed that victory."
B-P (6-3, 1-3 Foothills Council) almost let it slip away, as Johnstown (3-5, 1-3) put together a comeback in a frantic fourth quarter. After the Lady Bills scored just 17 points in the first three quarters, they scored 20 in the fourth.
For the Lady Patriots, that final quarter could not have taken longer.
"Honestly, it felt like forever because we knew they [the Lady Bills] were out to get us and they kept getting closer and closer -- and we just wanted to get the win more than anything," said B-P sophomore Kylie Gifford. "It felt like a very long time."
Gifford was one of the main reasons B-P had pushed out to its double-digit lead heading into the final quarter, as the sophomore guard scored a game-high 14 points, including a 6-of-9 performance from the foul line. On a night in which the Lady Patriots' leading scorers -- Katie Herba and Wood -- were a little off shooting the basketball, it was up to role players like Gifford to step up.
"I've been in that position only a couple of times and I knew I had to keep going, slow down and take my time," Gifford said.
But there was little the Lady Patriots could do right in the fourth quarter, as Johnstown forced the game's tempo and began hitting the offensive boards with gusto. But with so many missed shots -- the Lady Bills were 12 of 73 from the field -- Johnstown could never break through and take the lead.
"It's disappointing. We shot so poorly and I didn't have the answer," said Johnstown head coach Tim Derwin. "I couldn't figure it out. ... We've just got to make shots -- and I'm not talking jump shots; I'm talking around-the-basket stuff that we failed to capitalize on."
Johnstown's Alexis Swatt made two late 3-pointers to tighten the game on her way to a team-high 13 points, but some timely fast-break baskets by Gifford and Traver's free throws were enough for B-P to hang on for the win.
"It was very stressful," said Traver. "But we made it."
Herba had 10 points and nine rebounds for B-P, but Wood had just four points -- all on free throws -- while grabbing 11 rebounds.
Wood injured her right shoulder early in the fourth quarter, causing the senior to miss the rest of the game. Magliocca said her status was in doubt for Thursday's game, only saying that Wood had "some motion" in her shoulder after the game.
The potential loss of Wood for some time, though, did little to dampen the post-game mood for B-P, which is on a four-game winning streak as it heads into Thursday's home game against South Glens Falls.
"The last [four] games, we've been playing really good basketball," Magliocca said.