Down nine points early in the fourth quarter of a low-scoring game, it seemed over. But, as Olentangy Liberty girls basketball coach Sam Krafty put it, somehow, some way the Patriots pulled through.
Liberty scored the final 13 points of the game in a come-from-behind 35-31 victory over visiting Westerville South to take control of the OCC-Buckeye Division Thursday night in Powell.
“Somehow, some way we keep sticking together and pulling out close games,” said Krafty, whose squad’s average margin of victory in its four wins is three points. “That’s what you’ve got to do to win a league title.”
Breanna Yashko hit the game-tying jumper from the left elbow with 2:50 left and Kennedy Kashmiry gave Liberty the lead with 38 seconds left when she drove the middle for a layup after a Katie Harrop steal.
Yashko led all scorers with 12 points and Harrop had 10 points, two steals and two assists for the Patriots (4-1, 3-0), who are now alone in first place in the league.
“I don’t want to say we keep getting lucky, but we have people that step up at the right time,” Yashko said. “I can’t always score 15 points per game and (I’m) glad that I have teammates like Kelly (Levering) and Kennedy that have my back.”
Levering’s three-pointer cut the deficit to two points midway through the final period.
It was a nice comeback effort for Kashmiry, who struggled with turnovers in the first quarter. She scored all four of her points in the final stanza and pulled down a couple of rebounds to go with a key steal.
“Kennedy’s performance in the first half – and she would admit to it – was sub-par,” Krafty said. “As we told her at halftime, she was going to have another opportunity to come in and make a play … and Kennedy made a huge play down the stretch.”
Liberty struggled with turnovers all night and the shots weren’t falling. But its defense held South to just two points in the fourth quarter. Krafty credited assistant coach Kevin Streib for the defensive game plan.
“Although it looked like we were in a zone – we gave them six or seven different kinds of looks out of that,” Krafty said. “He did a great job of preparing them for that. That was the story of the game.”
The Wildcats had an affinity for buzzer-beaters. Anyssa Jones knocked down a three just before halftime to give South an 18-16 lead at the break and Peyton Guice barely beat the third-quarter buzzer with another three for a 29-22 lead through three.
Cailin Duffy led South with 10 points, Sommer Pitzer closed with nine and Guice added seven. Christiana Robertson led with six rebounds and had a pair of steals.
Pitzer had five steals and three assists and four rebounds and four assists for the Wildcats (3-3, 2-1).
Pitzer drove the lane, but missed on an off-balanced shot to tie it with five seconds left.
Next up, Liberty hosts Marysville in non-league play Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.
Pleasant 62, Buckeye Valley 42
The Barons had a good second quarter, outscoring the hosts 17-13 to make it a tight two-point game at halftime, but Pleasant used a big third and steady fourth to pull away for an MOAC win Thursday in Marion.
The Spartans outscored BV 22-9 in the third quarter and 13-8 in the fourth to account for the final margin.
The Barons outrebounded Pleasant 25-22, but turned the ball over 20 times in the setback — miscues the Spartans turned into 20 points. BV, meanwhile, scored just four points off the 12 turnovers it forced.
Kelsey Shearer and Morgan Scowden led BV with 10 points apiece.
Pleasant’s Summer Blevins led all scorers with 23.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.