YORK - The jury didn't come in on this one until less than six seconds were left in the game. That's when two clutch free throws by Fillmore Central's Rachel Hoarty finally produced a verdict.
The Panthers won on the road at York in girls' basketball Tuesday night, 40-35. The win improved Team Purple to 7-1 on the season and dropped York to 4-2. Next action for both teams will be holiday tourneys in York for the Dukes and at Grand Island Central Catholic for the Panthers.
The teams battled to a tie at 8-all after the first period. York got baskets from Aleah Rosenau on an offensive rebound and 2-pointers by Veronica Botts, Erin Malleck and Hannah Riley. The Riley basket was thanks to an assist from Marti Hitz.
Fillmore Central answered with Lindsey Maloley, Hoarty and Macy Jones buckets. Hoarty led all scorers with 20.
The Dukes pulled away in the second period to lead 17-8 on a two off the break by Botts, who drained a big three on an extra possession created by a Duke steal. That put York up by double at halftime, 22-11.
Then the worm turned as York scored 13 in the entire second half to the Panthers' 29.
"We didn't meet their pressure very well in the second half," lamented York coach Matt Kern. "It wasn't just their full-court press," which would have been tough enough, Kern said, but the smothering half-court defense of the Panthers meant "our scorers didn't get the touches they needed. It shows the athletes they have defensively."
The Panthers parlayed that pressure into a tie at 24-all on an offensive rebound stick-back by ... who else? ... Hoarty. York answered with another three from Botts, but the Panthers got it back to a one-point game with yet another Hoarty offensive rebound.
Rosenau scored with an assist from Riley to put the Dukes up 29-27 through three quarters.
Then came a pivotal final eight minutes in which Fillmore Central planted 13 points in the string to just six for the Dukes.
Audrey Malone canned a three from the top of the key at 5:43 of the fourth that posted the Panthers to a 34-31 lead. FC went up four when Lindsey Maloley hit one of two free throws.
York got a free throw from Malleck, but Hoarty more than cancelled it with two of her own with 3:37 to play. The Panthers were up 37-32, but the Dukes rallied to within 37-35, starting with a Malleck two at 1:40. Maloley hit the front of a one-and-one, missed the second at 14.8 on the clock and York was still one possession from forcing overtime at 38-35 Panthers.
Enter Hoarty for two final, fatal blows to Duke hopes. The versatile junior calmly dropped in both chances and ended it with 5.9 seconds left.
Panther coach Mark Madison said his girls were hamstrung until they hit a few baskets.
"I told them we've got to score," he said, "because if we don't score, we can't press. We were able to get some scores which allowed us to do what we do" defensively.
He said Hoarty is a player who can knock down shots from the perimeter or post up with equal effectiveness.
"She's a matchup problem for anybody."
The Panthers got 10 points from Maloley. York was led by Malleck with 12 and Botts at 10. York hit 11 2-pointers and a pair of threes to go with 7-12 shooting at the line. FC had only one three, but got 13 twos and went 11-23 on free throws.
Score by quarters
Fillmore Central (7-1) .............................8 3 16 13 - 40
York (4-2)...................................... 8 14 7 6 - 35
Fillmore Central (40) - Krienert 0 2-2 2, Malone 1 (1) 1-2 4, Rasmussen 1 0-0 2, Jones 1 0-0 2, Maloley 3 4-7 10, Scott 0 0-1 0, Hoarty 8 4-6 20, Motis 0 0-2 0. Totals - 14 (1) 11-23 40.
York (35) - Riley 2 2-4 6, Botts 4 (2) 0-0 10, Malleck 4 4-6 12. Rosenau 3 0-0 6, Hitz 0 1-2 1. Totals - 13 (2) 7-12 35.