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Chester County Press

Clutch free throws help seal Unionville’s comeback win, 42-34

01/30/2023 10:04AM ● By Richard Gaw

 Photo by Richard L. Gaw                    Unionville’s Milana Amoss drives past Great Valley defenders during the third quarter of the Longhorns’ come-from-behind 42-34 victory on Jan. 26.

By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

Just before the start of the fourth quarter of the Jan. 26 Ches-Mont girls basketball game between Unionville and Great Valley, Longhorns’ head coach Fred Ellzy saw the backs of his starting five heading back to the court.

“You’ve got eight minutes to turn it up,” he told them. “Let’s go.”

Ellzy had every reason for the encouragement. His team began the last quarter down by four points to a competitive Patriots team, who came into the game with an overall 14-4 record and had spent much of the first half swatting away Unionville’s short-range jumpers and shutting down the Longhorns’ inside game.

With the game on the line, however, Unionville turned it up.

Backed by superb free throw shooting by Riley Angstadt in the closing minutes and a three-pointer by Ellie Johnson deep in the fourth quarter, Unionville scored a hard-fought, come-from-behind victory over Great Valley, 42-34, to push their overall record to 12-4 and remain in the hunt for the Ches-Mont American Division lead.

Following a three-minute scoring drought to start the game, Great Valley’s Laura Lum nailed a jumper that was quickly answered by Angstadt’s three-pointer, but as the quarter progressed, the Patriots defense clogged any attempts to score from the paint. As the Longhorns began the second quarter leading 8-7 on a buzzer beating three-pointer by Milana Amoss, the game shifted in the direction of Great Valley, who was backed by Gia Sloutis’ 7 points and a three-pointer by Lum with three minutes left in the first half.

Although Amoss’ second three-pointer with 30 seconds remaining enabled the Longhorns to enter halftime down 18-15, Great Valley’s tight defense gave the illusion that their slim lead could be difficult for Unionville to answer.

While the Longhorns needed points, it was their defense that enabled them to crawl back in the second half. With 3:06 remaining in the third quarter, Great Valley called timeout to regroup after seeing Unionville force several Patriot turnovers. On Great Valley’s next possession, Johnson stole a pass, was fouled and made both free throws to tie the score at 26, but with one minute left, four points by Lauren Frederick gave the Patriots a 30-26 lead as the fourth quarter began.

After a five-second in-bound violation was called on Great Valley, a jumper by Shannon Megill was quickly followed by a Johnson layup that quickly tied the score at 30. For the next few minutes, both teams traded baskets – highlighted by a three-pointer and two-point bucket by Johnson. Holding a slim lead with three minutes left, Ellzy’s team went into an offensive stall, and in a desperate attempt to regain possession, Great Valley fouled their opponents, forcing them to the line for a series of one-and-one free throws.

Savannah Lang promptly sunk two of two from the stripe, while Angstadt made five of six free throws to seal the victory.

“We’ve struggled from the foul line during our last couple of games, so we picked it up in practice and worked on our foul shots and it paid off,” Ellzy said. “We knew we needed to play a little smarter in the second half, pressure the ball a little more, turn the heat up and make them turn the ball over. It worked in the beginning of the second half and it gave us a bit of an advantage.”

The Longhorns, who were led by game-high scorer Angstadt with 14 points, Amoss with 11 points and Johnson with 9 points, faces Oxford on Jan. 31 and will travel to Kennett on Feb. 2. 14-5 on the season, Great Valley was led by Sloutis and Lum with 10 points each, and will Bayard Rustin on Jan. 31.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].