Big shot Berger
TORONTO – Lexie Berger swished a three through the net with 11 seconds left to give Toronto a 47-44 win over Oak Glen Thursday night at the George J. Kunzler Memorial Gymnasium.
Berger’s shot capped a close nip-and-tuck game in which neither team had more than a five-point lead.
Berger, who scored eight of her game high 19 points in the fourth quarter, gave the Lady Red Knights their only five-point lead making a short jumper with 3:10 left in the game.
The Lady Golden Bears clawed their way back and tied it at 44-44 when Vanessa Hissam, who led her team with 11 points, grabbed a rebound and put it back up with 25 seconds showing on the clock.
The game-winning shot was set up when junior Malaysia Harrison missed two foul shots. Her classmate, Makayla Bauman jumped in the lane to nail the rebound (she had seven in the game) and quickly found Berger open beyond the arc and to the left of the basket.
The sharp-shooting junior took over in the fourth quarter.
“I’ve been waiting for her (Berger) to do that all season,” said victorious Toronto coach Mallory Blanton, whose club evened its record at 4-4. “She’s finally getting the mentality that she’s a leader and that she needs to step up on both ends of the court. We need to get the ball in her hands.”
Berger supplied the late game heroics, but one of the keys to victory for the Lady Red Knights was a full court press that disrupted the Oak Glen offense.
“We wanted to get the pace of the game to our tempo,” Blanton continued. “When we go full court it seems to spark us to play harder. Even though it tires us out, the girls don’t seem to give up as easily and keep going.”
Scott Wiley, coach of the Lady Golden Bears, which lost their first game after going 3-0, felt his team’s shooting wasn’t up to par.
“The shots weren’t falling the way they usually do,” said Wiley, whose team could make just 12 of 26 opportunities at the foul line. “Toronto’s a good, physical team so that may have disturbed us a little bit. I thought we fought back pretty well late in the game but the ball just didn’t go in the hole as much as it has the last three games.
“Their press made us speed up a little bit. We want to come down and be patient. It sped us up more than we like to play, but it was a good effort by both teams. It was a close game that could have gone either way.
“We knew Berger was a good shooter from the outside. We couldn’t recover back out on her. She had a couple of nice shots from outside.”
Oak Glen took its five-point lead (22-17) to the locker room at halftime but the Lady Knights outscored them 18-12 in the third stanza to take a 34-34 lead into the fourth period.
The Lady Bears had difficulty the whole game finding senior Vanessa Hissam, who needs about 180 points to reach 1,000 for her career. She was the only Oak Glen player in double figures with 11 points and turned in a double-double leading all rebounders with 13. She also had three steals.
Toronto’s 1,000-point candidate, Lindsay Bodnar scored 16 points with five rebounds and two steals.
The Lady Red Knights return to the hardwood Saturday at Bishop Donahue while the Lady Bears travel to Harrison Central next Monday.
Toronto 47, Oak Glen 44
Oak Glen 11 11 12 10 44
Toronto 11 6 18 12 47
OAK GLEN (3-1): Arnott 3 1-4 7, Snow 1 0-0 2, Witherow 1 0-0 2, Evans 0 2-2 2, Andrews 3 2-8 8, Hissam 4 3-6 11, Wiley 1 2-2 4, Stivason 3 2-4 8. TOTALS: 16 12-26 44. Rebounds: 36 (Hissam 13); Turnovers: 17.
TORONTO (4-4): Harrison 3 0-2 6, Berger 6 5-6 19, Bauman 1 0-0 2, Bodnar 6 3-4 16, Spadafora 1 2-6 4. TOTALS: 17 10-18 47. 3-pointers: Berger, 2, Bodnar; Rebounds: 35; Turnovers 12.