SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – All good things have to end sometime.
(Photo of North Clarion’s Tori Obenrader. Photo by Jared Bakaysa of JB Graphics. See more of Bakaysa’s work here)
Unfortunately for the North Clarion She-Wolves, that good thing was their undefeated season and their season in general when Farrell outscored them 12-7 in overtime to gain a 63-58 win in the second round of the PIAA Class 1A playoffs at Slippery Rock University’s Morrow Field House.
“I have 17 girls in their who would give you the same answer,” North Clarion head coach Terry Dreihaup said when asked about the heartbreaking nature of the game that saw the She-Wolves rally from a nine-point halftime deficit to take a 3-point lead late in regulation only to have Farrell tie the game on a late triple to force overtime. “They don’t know what it is like. This is the first time this year. They are (processing it). But they played hard. I am super proud of them.”
North Clarion (27-1) got down nine, 26-17, at halftime before battling back in the second half eventually taking a 47-46 lead on an old-school 3-point play by Abby Gatesman with 1:43 to play.
“We said in the locker room (at halftime) we have to get one stop at a time, and they did,” Dreihaup said. “They played hard that second half. They capitalized on every opportunity they could.”
Another basket by Gatesman with 54.2 seconds left pushed the lead to three 49-46, but Gatesman missed a free throw that would have made it a two-possession game.
Mar’Nae Oatis, who had a team-high 19 points for Farrell, then made both ends of a one-and-one with 52.5 left.
After Gabby Schmader missed a free throw with 51.2 to play, North Clarion’s defense got a stop, and Tori Obenrader, who had a game-high 23 points to go with 13 rebounds, hit two free throws with 22 seconds left to push the lead back to three.
But Marissa Hopson, who had 17 points, hit her third 3-pointer of the game with 10.4 seconds left to tie the game at 51 for the Steelers (14-11).
“That was a dagger,” Dreihaup said. “She is a good player. I give kudos to them. They played hard. We said we couldn’t let them have an open three. We had to get a hand up, a hand in their face. Unfortunately, we didn’t have anything. It was a wide open look. It was a great shot on her part.”
I told them in the huddle listen we can’t let them have an open three. We have to get a hand up, a hand in their face. Unfortunately, we didn’t have anything. It was a wide open look. It was a great shot on her part.
North Clarion took back-to-back timeouts after the Hopson three, the second one after Farrell showed what defense it was going to play.
Out of the timeout, Obenrader took the ball up court and drove the lane where she was double teamed. She then kicked the ball out to Gatesman in front of the North Clarion bench for a potential game-winning 3-pointer.
But the sophomore’s shot was just a bit strong hitting the side iron on the far side of the hoop and coming out with the ball going out of bounds to Farrell with 0.1 of a second on the clock meaning overtime.
“I thought it was in,” Dreihaup said. “I told Tori to drive and if she was covered to dish it to someone else. It was how we talked about it.”
Things went awry for the She-Wolves right out of the gate in overtime.
Three turnovers and two missed shots in the first two-plus minutes of the extra session contributed to Farrell scoring the first six points of overtime to take a 57-51 lead.
“I think they were maybe trying a little bit too hard,” Dreihaup said. “They wanted to put them away off the get-go in overtime. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
Obenrader made it 57-53 with a basket with 1:26 to play, and 58-55 with another hoop with a minute left.
But Farrell hit 3 of 4 foul shots in a 14-second span to expand the lead to 61-55 when Malaysia hit 1 of 2 with 35.4 to go.
“I told the girls, there are 27 times that the other team felt this way all year long,” Dreihaup said of the team’s school-record 27 victories. “Fortunately, we weren’t one of them until night. They had a super year. They exceeded my expectations every single game. No one expected us to be 27-0. The girls practiced hard and played a team. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’m just really proud of them.”
The game marked the final one in a great career, easily one of the best in District 9 history, for Obenrader. She finished the season averaging 24.1 points and 15.4 rebounds per game while scoring 676 points on the year, the second most in a single season in North Clarion history behind her 684 a year ago. In her career, she amassed 2,114 career points, the fifth most in D9 history, while also hauling down 1,569 career rebounds. She will continue her career at Gannon next season.
“She is a great player,” Dreihaup said. “She will be missed. She is moving on to something bigger and better at Gannon, and I’m sure she will do great there.”
Gatesman continued her late-season push scoring 18 points while grabbing 10 rebounds, her second consecutive double-double in the PIAA playoffs, and might just have taken the baton from Obenrader in the fourth quarter when she willed the She-Wolves into the lead by scoring nine of North Clarion’s 17 points in the quarter.
Farrell moves on to the quarterfinals where it will play Juniata Valley, last year’s PIAA 1A runner-up, Saturday at a site and time to be determined. Juniata Valley defeated Berlin Brothersvalley, 52-28.
FARRELL 63, NORTH CLARION 58, OVERTIME
Score by Quarters
North Clarion 10 7 17 17 7 – 58
Farrell 16 10 13 14 12 – 63
NORTH CLARION – 58
Mackenzie Bauer 2 3-4 7, Cierah Manroos 0 0-0 0, Gabby Schmader 2 0-1 6, Gabby Carll 1 1-2 4, Abby Gatesman 6 5-6 18, Tori Obenrader 9 4-7 23, Haley Sherman 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 13-20 58.
FARRELL – 63
Mariah Hopson 0 0-0 0, Rukaiah Pierce 0 0-0 0, Marissa Hopson 7 0-0 17, Kyra Crosby 8 2-3 18, Mar’Nae Oatis 5 9-10 19, Jasmyn Russell 0 0-0 0, Malaysia Gregory 3 2-6 9. Totals 23 13-19 63.
Three-pointers: North Clarion 5 (Schmader 2, Carll, Gatesman, Obenrader). Farrell 4 (Marissa Hopson 3, Gregory).
Rebounds: North Clarion 19 offensive, 19 defensive, 38 total (Obenrader 13, Gatesman 10). Farrell 5 offensive, 21 defensive, 26 total (Oatis 7, Crosby 5).