It was still anyone’s game, the whole night up for grabs with one minute to play.
So Allie Barber took a couple of stabs at it, and as a result, Pittston Area stole away a thrilling victory.
Barber hit the tying basket with 58 seconds remaining Monday, then her missed jumper wound up in the hands of Marley O’Brien for the winning bucket as Pittston Area pulled out a heart-pounding 58-56 victory over Hazleton Area at the Patriots gym.
“It feels great,” said Barber, who finished with 13 points in a balanced Pittston Area attack that put four of the team’s five starters in double scoring figures. “These are the best wins. When you win by 15, those are not good wins.
“These are the games to pull out.”
The Patriots simply pulled victory away from Hazleton Area’s hands at the end.
Trailing by two points with the Cougars clutching the ball as the clock neared the game’s one-minute mark, Barber jumped a pass in Hazleton Area’s frontcourt and raced the other way to get the home crowd roaring. Then, she cooly converted the layup that pulled Pittston Area into a 56-56 tie with 58 seconds remaining.
“I saw they were just passing it back and I went for the steal,” Barber said. “Going up (to the basket), I was just like, ‘Don’t miss it.’ If I missed that, could you imagine?”
As it turned out, the Patriots didn’t leave anything to the imagination.
Liz Waleski stole away Hazleton Area’s inbounds pass, setting up Barber for another shot.
It seemed she wasn’t done gambling.
With more than enough time to run a play, Barber stepped across the three-point line with her dribble and let loose with a three-point attempt. It bounded hard off the glass, but straight into the hands of O’Brien — who was wide open underneath for an uncontested lay-in that won the game with two seconds to play.
“The clock … there wasn’t a lot of time,” Barber said. “I said, ‘Take the shot.’ “
The final minute seemed to take Hazleton Area’s breath away.
The two teams played a tight, back-and forth game while planning to gain an early-season edge to contend for the Wyoming Valley Conference Division I title.
Neither team held a double-digit lead the entire game, and neither let the other get much of an advantage. The game was tied after each of the first two quarters, 11-11 in the first and 26-26 at halftime.
Pittston Area took its largest lead, 16-11, on the first of Eastin Ashby’s three three-pointers early in the second quarter. And Hazleton Area opened a nine-point lead, 47-38, on a bucket by Alyssa Sitch with little more than a minute to play in the third quarter.
But just past the midway mark of the fourth quarter, it was all even again, thanks to a free throw by Jackie Rabender that pulled the Patriots into a 51-51 tie.
Waleski — who finished with a team-high 15 points — had a big hand in that, hitting four straight foul shots to open the fourth quarter to trim Hazleton Area’s lead to three points.
Sitch gave the Cougars a bit of an edge, scoring a game-high 20 points, and her Hazleton Area teammate Lexi Wolk added 16 in a scrappy effort.
But Cougars forward Brianna Woznicki fouled out less than two minutes into the final quarter, and Wolk was gone with her fifth foul little more than a minute later.
And Pittston Area wouldn’t go away, using standout guard play from Barber and Waleski along with 14 points from Eastin Ashby and 12 from Rabender. And in the end, a game of chance Barber kept playing helped swing the game into the win column for the Patriots.
“This was a big game for us,” Barber said. “We knew coming in it would be. We knew Hazleton was going to be one of the top teams. Good to come out with a win, definitely.”
Hanover Area 58
Wyoming Area 45
Wyoming Area got 12 points from Emily Wolfgang, and 10 from Jess Sorick in a losing effort against Hanvoer Area Monday night in WVC girls basketball action.
The Hawkeyes went ahead early thanks to Haylee Bobos’ 20 points. Asdone Hooper contributed 15 points.
Wyoming Area found itself in an early hole after the first quarter. The Hawkeyes took a 19-8 lead after the first period. The rest of the way it was pretty tight. The Warriors won the fourth quarter 17-9, but couldn’t overcome being doubled up in the third frame.
Wyoming Area was just 5-of-17 from the charity stripe.
Pittston Area 50
After trailing 22-17 at the half, Pittston Area charged back with a strong second half to upend Dallas on Wednesday night.
Eastin Ashby totaled 21 points as the Patriots knocked off the Mountaineers. Ashby hit 5 threes in the win, while Allie Barber totaled 10 points with one of her own threes.
Wyoming Area 40
Wyoming Area’s Rachel Solano scored 11 points in a losing effort against Lake-Lehman Thursday.
The Warriors struggled in the first and third quarters, scoring just five points in each. Nicole Wright had six points for Wyoming Area.
Cayle Spencer scored her 1,000th career point as part of an 18-point performance for the Black Knights. Spencer was matched by teammate Emily Sutton’s 18 points. Danae Sutliff also supported the effort with 17.
Pittston Area 68
Jackie Rabender had 19 points on the night, including the only three-pointer for the Patriots en route to victory Friday. Liz Waleski was the other player to reach double digits with 12 points.
The Tigers had four three-pointers, two of which came from Molly Hampsey — who scored the most points with nine.