PORT GIRLS’ COACH Brian Johnson tried to rally his team in the closing minutes of a North Shore Conference loss to Homestead last Friday. Photo by Sam Arendt
Port girls try to regroup after 4th-quarter nightmare leads to double-overtime loss
Sometimes nightmares rear their ugly heads at the most unexpected times.
Just ask the Port Washington girls’ basketball team, which saw a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead evaporate in a 52-44, double-overtime loss to Homestead last Friday.
“It kind of came out of left field. We hit a wall,” Port coach Brian Johnson said of Homestead’s stunning comeback.
“They got on a roll, and a lot of things went well for them. Not a lot went well for us.”
The host Pirates appeared to be firmly in control of the North Shore Conference game when they took a 29-14 lead into the final eight minutes of regulation.
To that point, they had outshot, outrebounded and generally outhustled Homestead, which failed to score for the first seven minutes of the game and made only five floor shots through three quarters.
But the Highlanders still had life, thanks to Hannah Young. The 5-foot-11-inch junior, who scored all of her team’s eight points in the first half, caught fire down the stretch.
She tossed in 15 points in the fourth quarter, sinking a trio of three-point shots, as Homestead outscored Port, 23-8, to force overtime.
TIGHT DEFENSE helped Homestead overcome a 15-point, fourth-quarter deficit in Friday’s win over Port Washington.
Photo by Sam ArendtThe Pirates held a 37-35 lead in the final minute, but Young hit a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left to tie the score. She finished the night with 26 points, including a 5-for-6 effort at the foul line.
“Young got hot, and we had some communication breakdowns on defense,” Johnson said. “We should have done a better job on her.”
In the first overtime, Homestead continued its roll and grabbed a 42-39 lead. However, Mikayla Hilton rescued Port with a three-point basket with 1:18 left, and the game moved into a second extra session.
In the final overtime, the Highlanders ended the suspense by scoring the last eight points. A three-point play by Karley Marotta off a layup put them ahead for good, 47-44.
The rally gave Homestead its first conference win in six tries and dropped Port to 2-4. It also left the Pirates contemplating what should have been.
“When you have a lead like that and the other team is starting to come back, you sometimes start playing not to lose instead of to win,” Johnson said.
“We stopped doing all the things that got us the lead, like rebounding and playing defense.”
Overshadowed by the Highlanders’ frantic rally was a well-balanced Port offensive effort. Although none of the Pirates scored in double figures, they got
nine points from Hilton, a sophomore forward, and eight apiece by Marly Trier and Kelsey Steffen.
Despite the frustration of having a win slip away, Johnson said his team should benefit in the long term from a learning experience.
“We’re going to learn from this and be a better team because of it,” he said. “If any group can handle it, these girls can.”
Port (5-5 overall) will try to rebound this Friday when it travels to Grafton for a conference game as part of coed varsity doubleheader. The 5:45 p.m. girls’ contest will be followed by the boys’ game at 7:30 p.m.