Freeport seals win over East Allegheny at foul line
FREEPORT — With the game on the line, Freeport's Autumn Hawk came through in the clutch.
Not that it surprised her head coach, Kirk Lorigan.
Hawk went 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final 23 seconds of the Lady Yellowjackets 43-39 Section 1-AA victory over East Allegheny Thursday.
"I want her on the line in that situation," Lorigan said of Hawk. "She's a clutch player. She's won games for us before and she'll do it again."
Hawk's free throws helped stave off a furious East Allegheny comeback, which saw the Lady Wildcats cut Freeport's lead from 10 points to two late in the game.
"East Allegheny turned up the pressure and we fell apart," Lorigan said. "It was really close. We made some bad decisions in the fourth quarter but we made enough good ones over the course of the game to win it."
The victory was big for Freeport, which improved to 4-1 in the section. East Allegheny, meanwhile, fell to 3-2.
"This was huge," Lorigan said. "In the past few years, this was a game we didn't win. This gives us some flexibility now. We'll go to Ford City next week and battle for second place."
Freeport had a somewhat comfortable lead at halftime, 22-16. The Lady Yellowjackets' advantage would have been more, but they shot just 8-for-25 from the field in the first half.
"We were running our offense well in the first half but we missed some shots," Lorigan said. "I thought East Allegheny did a phenomenal job defensively. They were chasing us around and got us out of our game at times."
A low-scoring third quarter produced only 14 combined points and saw Freeport extend its lead to 30-22.
That's when the fun began.
Although East Allegheny never led in the fourth, it managed to keep the score close enough to make every possession vital.
Beth Planiczki sunk a field goal that made it 39-37 with 26 seconds left. But Hawk took over from there to seal East Allgheny's fate.
Freeport also did a great job of defending Lady Wildcats' star Dana Stewart. Stewart scored a game-high 17 points, but was held under her 31 point-per-game average.
"She's going to get her points," Lorigan said. "We rotated Hawk and Lacey Cochran on her. I thought they did a phenomenal job."
Freeport was led by Michelle Vascik's 13. Hawk added 10.