Providence tips St. Francis in OT

 
By Gregg Voss
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 2/17/2022 9:36 PM

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, or so the old maxim goes.

Providence Catholic senior point guard Kelly Knight lived that scenario on Thursday night in a 48-45 Class 3A regional championship overtime victory over St. Francis.

 

Knight, who averages 10 points per game, missed two 3-pointers at the end of regulation, and of course, she heard it from the St. Francis fans, standing at the Celtics' end of the court.

But the third time, with 2:11 to go in the extra frame, was the charm, as Knight buried a 3 from well beyond the top of the key to give her team a 43-40 lead. The Celtics would never trail again.

"Oh yeah, I heard them," Knight said of the fan reaction to her misses. "I started pushing girls because I was so mad."

But like falling off a horse, the best thing to do is get right back on.

"I couldn't stop," Knight said. "I needed to keep shooting. I was open, so I was going to shoot."

All told, Knight finished with a game-high 16 points, including three 3-pointers, the other two coming in the first quarter.

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"No conscience," Providence Catholic coach Eileen Copenhaver said of Knight's exploits late. "You can't play the game if you're worried about a missed shot. As long as the shot was within our rhythm of what we do, I'll live with it."

After St. Francis senior Tristan Grosam hit her own 3 with 13.8 seconds left, pulling the Spartans within 46-45, junior guard Annalise Pietrzyk got fouled with 11 seconds left. Pietrzyk sank her two shots to set the final score, but the Celtics had to sweat out a last-second shot by another St. Francis senior, Katie Anne De Craene.

Megan Duzansky corralled the rebound, and it was ballgame for Providence Catholic (27-6).

But the Spartans (20-13) could walk away from this game knowing they had done everything within their power to push the second-seeded Celtics, leveraging tenacious zone defense and methodical offense.

"I couldn't be prouder of these girls," St. Francis coach Jeff Gerdeman said. "We were a five-seed, and knocked off a three, and came within seconds of knocking off a two. It wasn't meant to be, but I was proud of them."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He should have been. After going down 17-14 at the end of the first quarter, the Spartans scratched and clawed their way back to a 25-24 lead at the half. Things looked really good for them at the beginning of the fourth quarter when De Craene hit back-to-back 3-pointers of her own to give her team a 40-37 lead.

"It was huge for me," De Craene said of those two shots. "The last few games, my shot hasn't been very on. It felt really good."

But in-between Knight's three misses, Pietrzyk hit on one from the left corner to tie the game with 1:45 to go. Good thing, too; St. Francis junior Katherine Lilly just missed hitting one of her own at the buzzer.

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