NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. – It was billed as a heavyweight fight, and it didn’t disappoint.
Redbank Valley built a big lead, blew the big lead, and then rallied to beat visiting Otto-Eldred, 64-60, in a battle of one-loss District 9 teams Saturday afternoon in New Bethlehem.
“This was definitely a good confidence booster for us,” Redbank Valley sophomore star Mylee Harmon, who tickled the twine for a game-high 33 points, said. “We need a game like this against a hard team. I will give it to Otto-Eldred, they battled back very well. These are the teams we are going to see if we are going to make a run at the state playoffs.”
Rewatch the full game
For the first 17 minutes, it looked like Redbank Valley (17-1) was going to run away with a statement victory.
The Lady Bulldogs led by 16, 34-18, at halftime and by 17, 37-20, following an old-school 3-point play by Alivia Huffman a minute into the second half.
But Otto-Eldred (15-2) started knocking down long-range shot after long-range shot to get back in the game.
The Lady Terrors hit eight second-half 3-pointers and used a 12-3 fourth-quarter run to take a 60-59 lead on the eighth of those shots, one from just to the left of the left elbow by Brooke Close with just under a minute to play.
But with the chips down and the momentum having gone away, Redbank Valley turned to Harmon for the answer.
And the talented sophomore responded with her biggest bucket of the day, a driving layup down the left side of the key that she finished while being fouled by Brooke CLose with around 30 seconds left.
Harmon hit the free throw as well to put the Lady Bulldogs ahead, 62-60.
“We were just trying to calm down during the timeout (that preceded that go-ahead basket),” Harmon said. “We had a lot (of time) left. We didn’t really need to push it up the court. One shot, just trying to get a good look and not force anything.”
While the bucket and charity shot was big, they didn’t seal the deal for Redbank Valley.
That didn’t happen until there were under 10 seconds to play when Harmon stole an Anna Merry pass, was fouled, and hit both free throws to make it a two-possession game.
“We have been kind of a team that stays back in a 2-3,” Harmon said. “But we knew we had to get pressure because they were all shooting deep, NBA range. We had to get ball pressure with no fouls.”
Even after the steal, there was no guarantee the game was over considering Harmon was just 3 of 7 from the free-throw line at the time.
But she got the first charity shot to rattle home and then hit the second to secure the victory.
“I feel like I am pretty good under pressure, those points that matter most in the game,” Harmon said. “I know I had about 30, but those two free throws really locked it in. That is when I had to focus the most.”
Redbank Valley was focused in for much of the first half using an 18-5 second-quarter run to build a 34-16 lead on a Harmon basket with 53 seconds left in the half before taking the 16-point lead into the locker room.
Harmon was on fire the entire half scoring 18 points before the break.
But it was a pair of long-range shots by Otto-Eldred in the opening minutes of the second half that seemed to get the Lady Terrors rolling.
After hitting just a pair of shots – both Merry 3-pointers – in the first half, Otto-Eldred got back-to-back triples from Close and Merry early in the second half to start a 15-2 run that was closed out by a 3-pointer by Sheeler with 4:17 left in the third quarter that made the score 39-35 in favor of the Lady Bulldogs.
“We come out with intensity pretty much every game,” Harmon said. “We lacked off when we came out of of the locker room in the second half. We were trying to get ourselves fired up. We have been struggling with that all season.”
Redbank Valley seemed to right the ship a little thanks to a quick 7-2 spurt near the end of the third quarter that pushed the lead back to 9, 50-51, on an Ady Bond 3-pointers with 25 seconds left in the quarter.
But Kate Rhinehart drilled a triple for Otto-Eldred right before the horn to get the Lady Terrors within six, 50-44, heading to the fourth quarter.
A free throw by Sheeler and a 3-pointer by Close then had Otto-Eldred within two, 50-48, 1:15 into the fourth quarter before Redbank Valley got six straight points to go back up eight, 56-48, on a Harmon basket with 5:11 to play.
But five straight points from Merry and free throws traded by each team had the Lady Terrors back within three, 57-54, with 2:20 to go.
Huffman answered on the other end to make it 59-54, but then Sheeler nailed a 3-pointer from Distant (the town and the range) – well actually it was only from the volleyball attack line – to make it a two-point game, 59-57, with 1:51 left.
Close then hit the three to put Otto-Eldred up for the first time since it was 4-2 less than three minutes into the game before Harmon took over at the end sealing here Allegheny Grille of Foxburg Player of the Game status.
“That is the most fun I have had in a while,” Harmon said.
Watch Harmon’s full interview
Huffman added 16 points in the win for Redbank Valley.
Merry led Otto-Eldred with 21 points with Sheeler scoring 14, 13 after halftime, and Close chipping in with 11.
Both teams return to action next week with Redbank Valley hosting Karns City Thursday and Otto-Eldred traveling to Galeton Tuesday.
NOTES: The game featured the top three scorers in D9 coming into the game with Sheeler entering the contest averaging 22.0 ppg, Harmon second at 21.6 ppg, and Huffman third with 17.8 ppg. By the time the afternoon was over, Harmon had taken over the D9 scoring lead at 22.3 ppg with Sheeler checking in at 21.5 and Huffman at 17.7 ppg … It was Hamron’s fourth 30-point game of the season and her 10th game of scoring at least 20 in a contest … Merry’s 21 points were a career-high surpassing her previous career best of 18 set Dec. 6 at against Northern Potter.