It’s not quite March yet, but that madness has begun in Western New York.
Second-seed Pembroke survived a nail-biter, defeating seventh-seeded Cuba-Rushford, 55-49 in overtime of a Class C2 quarterfinal game.
The win ends a drought in which the Lady Dragons hadn’t won a sectional game since 2007, something that narrowly slipped through their hands today.
“We have a special group of girls,” said Pembroke Head Coach Mike Wilson.
The Rebels held the lead for the majority of the game, despite the fact that their leading scorer, Whitney Kent, spent much of the second quarter on the bench with three fouls. Meanwhile, their second-leading scorer, Jade Joseph, couldn’t find her scoring touch all night.
“They have two great players,” Wilson said. “We went to a triangle and two in the second quarter and I thought it worked well. We made them work for everything and it created havoc for them.”
Cuba-Rushford led by one and at halftime, but Kent came alive in the second half.
She scored 13 of her game-high 21 points in the second half to keep her team in the lead.
The Lady Dragons finally came through in the fourth quarter, getting offense from an unlikely source.
Senior Chance Alexyn, who had been pulled 10 seconds into the third quarter, returned to knock down three straight baseline jumpers to give Pembroke the lead.
“I wanted to get her attention,” Wilson said. “I wanted her to see the mistakes she had made, and she came through in a huge way for us.”
Aralyse Johnson connected on two free throws to extend their lead to three with just 12 seconds remaining in the game.
The Rebels weren’t quite ready to give up just yet as Kent was fouled shooting a three with just 5.4 seconds remaining.
After making the first, she missed the second, meaning she would have to intentionally miss the third.
And Mikayla Moshier grabbed the offensive rebound and laid it in with just three seconds remaining for her first points of the game.
The overtime was just like much of the game, tight throughout, but disaster struck for Cuba-Rushford.
Just after Morgan VanDerHorst made a turnaround jumper to give the Rebels a 49-48 lead with under two minutes to play, both Kent and Joseph would foul out of the game.
Johnson would drive the Dragons to victory, dominating inside during the extra frame.
The sophomore scored five of Pembroke’s eight points in overtime, including the game winning basket with under a minute to play.
She was not just strong in overtime, but for the entire day. Johnson would finish with a team-high 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
Rylee Moser also had a big game, scoring 14 points, while Breanna Johnson added 12 points and five rebounds for Pembroke.
Kent was outstanding all night in defeat, whether it was scoring, rebounding or finding an open teammate. She would add seven rebounds to go with her 21 points.
While Joseph struggled to score, she did pull down 14 rebounds to go along with her five points. VanDerHorst was a terror on the backboards all game, pulling down 20 rebounds to go with her 12 points for Cuba-Rushford (13-7).
Pembroke (14-5) will play the winner of Clyde-Savannah and Dundee on Tuesday night at Honeoye Falls-Lima. Tip-off will be at 6 p.m.