UTICA — The Utica girls basketball team played one of its most complete games at home on Saturday, hitting its shots when the game was on the line to defeat Loudonville, 59-51.
The last time the two teams met, the Red Birds lost thanks to a last-second shot by sophomore Taylor Dush.
After Saturday’s game, the Red Birds would prefer to not have to see her on the basketball court again.
Dush once again made the key plays down the stretch for Utica. With the lead at two with under a minute to go, Dush went 6-for-6 from the line after being fouled three times. Her clutch shots put the game out of Loudonville’s reach.
“We’ve been working on those situations in practice,” Utica head coach Michelle Snow said. “We’ve been throwing these in –– at the request of our captains, as a matter of fact.”
None of those shots would have happened had it not been for junior Myranda Wolfe grabbing consecutive rebounds to set up each play. Wolfe had six rebounds in the fourth period, four in the final 1:10.
“Laureese (Marston) was doing a great job in the first half,” Snow said. “But they were doing a great job boxing her out in the second half. We called a timeout and said (Loudonville) is doing a better job, and Myranda said she was going to take that over. That’s a sign of keeping the intensity up, and paying attention to details.”
Dush had already performed heroics in this game long before her six free throws. Late in the third period, she stole the ball twice on consecutive Loudoville possessions, ending an 8-0 run by the Red Birds. She followed that up with a pair of 3-pointers, the second one from half court at the buzzer.
Dush ended the day with 15 points, tying her with sophomore Kelly Overton for the team lead.
Wolfe totaled 10 points for the game as well as three blocks, two on consecutive shots. Freshman Tory Minton added six points.
The Redskins had to contend with Alexis Vanhorne, the speedy junior guard who leads the way for Loudonville. Vanhorne had a run of three straight buckets midway through the second; otherwise, she was held in check throughout much of the game. Vanhorne ended the day with 14 points before fouling out with three minutes to go.
“Our post players came over and adjusted, and then Kelly got a block, and Laureese got a block,” Snow said. “That was a key moment in the game.”