Elizabeth Forward outlasts West Mifflin in double OT
Monday's showdown between Elizabeth Forward and West Mifflin was one of those mesmerizing games that spectators don't want to see end, and for a while, it looked like they might get their wish.
Regulation wasn't enough to decide this clash between the rival Warriors and Titans nor was just one overtime period.
It took two, with Elizabeth Forward finally emerging as a 69-64 victor of a Section 4-AAA classic played in front of a frenzied West Mifflin crowd.
The visiting Warriors overcame early deficits to force overtime before ultimately winning.
“It was two teams playing their hardest,” Elizabeth Forward coach Sam Kosanovich said. “They're a very powerful, dominating team. We hustle and play our game. It's just two good teams playing one another.”
With the win, Elizabeth Forward moves to 5-0 overall, including a 2-0 record in section play. West Mifflin is now 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the section.
The Warriors, who were undefeated in section play last season, have beaten the Titans in four straight contests.
“They're a good team. They're experienced,” West Mifflin coach Scott Stephenson said. “We've got to learn from this. And I told our girls, ‘Just don't let it linger.' We've got to get back at it Thursday at Ringgold. Bottom line.
“But I give them credit, man. EF won this game fair and square. I mean, they did a heck of a job.”
West Mifflin's Ciara Patterson, who finished with a game-high 18 points, sunk a huge 3-pointer in the second overtime that tied the game 64-64.
On the ensuing possession, Natalie Fekula was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws, putting Elizabeth Forward back up by three.
After Patterson missed another attempt from long range, Elizabeth Forward's Abigail Sporio iced the game by making two free throws.
Fekula and fellow senior Kylie Owoc led the Warriors with 17 points apiece.
“We look for senior leadership,” Kosanovich said, “and both of those girls are being recruited by college coaches throughout the area. ... So we expect big things from them, and they showed you tonight, they're seniors and they show us the leadership we need to have.”
West Mifflin led 15-10 after one quarter. The two teams went into the locker room tied 28-28 after Owoc drained a midrange jumper that barely beat the buzzer.
Despite going on top in the third, the Warriors entered the fourth trailing by three points.
In the final seconds of regulation, neither team was able to net a game-winning shot.
Owoc was also responsible for the clutch 3-pointer that tied the score 60-60, where it remained after the first overtime. In the second, Elizabeth Forward forged ahead despite the intensity of the opponent and the noise of the crowd.
“A lot of bad blood. We're rivals,” Stephenson said. “But I was proud of my team. They fought. They did what they had to do. We just couldn't finish. We had our chances. They beat us, but we had our chances.”
Mark Emery is a freelance writer.