Providence tips St. Francis in OT

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, or so the old maxim goes.

Providence Catholic senior point guard Kelly Knight lived that scenario on Thursday night in a 48-45 Class 3A regional championship overtime victory over St. Francis.

Knight, who averages 10 points per game, missed two 3-pointers at the end of regulation, and of course, she heard it from the St. Francis fans, standing at the Celtics' end of the court.

But the third time, with 2:11 to go in the extra frame, was the charm, as Knight buried a 3 from well beyond the top of the key to give her team a 43-40 lead. The Celtics would never trail again.

"Oh yeah, I heard them," Knight said of the fan reaction to her misses. "I started pushing girls because I was so mad."

But like falling off a horse, the best thing to do is get right back on.

"I couldn't stop," Knight said. "I needed to keep shooting. I was open, so I was going to shoot."

All told, Knight finished with a game-high 16 points, including three 3-pointers, the other two coming in the first quarter.

"No conscience," Providence Catholic coach Eileen Copenhaver said of Knight's exploits late. "You can't play the game if you're worried about a missed shot. As long as the shot was within our rhythm of what we do, I'll live with it."

After St. Francis senior Tristan Grosam hit her own 3 with 13.8 seconds left, pulling the Spartans within 46-45, junior guard Annalise Pietrzyk got fouled with 11 seconds left. Pietrzyk sank her two shots to set the final score, but the Celtics had to sweat out a last-second shot by another St. Francis senior, Katie Anne De Craene.

Megan Duzansky corralled the rebound, and it was ballgame for Providence Catholic (27-6).

But the Spartans (20-13) could walk away from this game knowing they had done everything within their power to push the second-seeded Celtics, leveraging tenacious zone defense and methodical offense.

"I couldn't be prouder of these girls," St. Francis coach Jeff Gerdeman said. "We were a five-seed, and knocked off a three, and came within seconds of knocking off a two. It wasn't meant to be, but I was proud of them."

He should have been. After going down 17-14 at the end of the first quarter, the Spartans scratched and clawed their way back to a 25-24 lead at the half. Things looked really good for them at the beginning of the fourth quarter when De Craene hit back-to-back 3-pointers of her own to give her team a 40-37 lead.

"It was huge for me," De Craene said of those two shots. "The last few games, my shot hasn't been very on. It felt really good."

But in-between Knight's three misses, Pietrzyk hit on one from the left corner to tie the game with 1:45 to go. Good thing, too; St. Francis junior Katherine Lilly just missed hitting one of her own at the buzzer.

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