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BROOKLYNN’S BOMB: Taylor’s Deep 3-Pointer Gives Karns City 37-36 Win over North Clarion in KSAC Semifinals

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — For a second — maybe not even that; a jiffy — Brooklynn Taylor was frozen.

She didn’t realize what she had done.

As her Karns City teammates streamed off the bench after her 3-pointer at the buzzer had given the Gremlins a 37-36 win over North Clarion in the semifinal round of the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference girls basketball tournament, Taylor paused before rushing into the arms of Hanna Dailey in celebration.

“I think I was excited,” Taylor said, chuckling. “But it didn’t really hit me. I was shocked.”

So was North Clarion, the second seed in the tourney that had just gone up 36-34 on a wide-open layup by Lily Homan with eight seconds left at PennWest Clarion’s Tippin Gymnasium on Thursday night.

(Pictured above, Karns City’s Brooklynn Taylor was named the ExploreClarion KSAC Girls Semifinal Player of the Game/photo by Owen Krepps)

Homan’s basket brought the Wolves all the way back from an 11-point deficit with a little less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

“Oh, we were mad,” Taylor said. “I could feel my blood boiling. I’m sure everyone else’s was.”

Taylor turned that anger into joy.

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She scored 11 points — none bigger than those final three.

It’s been an up-and-down season for Taylor, a sort of microcosm of the roller coaster the Gremlins have been on during the 2023-24 campaign.

Taylor was in a deep shooting slump a few weeks ago, but she worked her way out of it just in time for the stretch run. And for one of the biggest moments of her career.

“I can’t let one second that it takes me to shoot my shot to ruin however many minutes are left in the game,” she said.

Taylor’s game-winning 3-pointer was not the play.

Karns City coach Steve Andreassi figured North Clarion would pressure the inbound pass. The Wolves didn’t. Instead they went back into their zone. Dailey rolled the ball up the court, Taylor scooped it up and dribbled over the timeline. Once at the college 3-point arc, she cut to her right, set up and fired up the winning shot.

“It was written up for Naomi, actually,” Taylor said. “We honestly though she’s strong down there and she’d probably get a one on one. But when we didn’t see them come out and pressure, we were like, ‘What are we gonna do?’”

(Brooklynn Taylor brings the ball up the floor for Karns City/photo by Owen Krepps)

It worked out anyway and ended a string of close, late losses that had dogged Karns City this season.

Including a meeting against North Clarion two weeks ago in which the Wolves rallied to win with 10 points in the final two minutes.

“It feels a lot better than being on the losing end,” Taylor said, smiling. “I just feel good for our team that we did this together with our defense.”

But North Clarion looked poised to wrest another late win away from Karns City.

Homan scored 14 points, including what looked like the game-winner for the Wolves late.

“We were all shocked. I’m like, ‘Oh, my.’ She took off and she was wide open,” said North Clarion coach Skip Homan. “I give them credit. They were down by 11 and we could have gotten beat by 20, but we came back.”

Ainsley Hartle, who finished with 10 points, hit a jumper with three minutes remaining to give North Clarion a brief 34-32 lead, but Karns City’s Savanna Prescott hit two free throws — getting a second chance after a miss on the back end because of a lane violation — to tie it again at 34-34 with 1:42 left.

That led to the trading of clutch baskets by Lily Homan and Taylor.

“She’s been putting a lot of pressure on herself to score, especially when Chloe (Fritch) was hurt,” said Karns City Andreassi said of Taylor. “She’s taken up the mantle of the team leader, the point guard and everything’s on her. So that’s a lot of pressure on a girl and she’s been responding recently.”

Venesky led the Gremlins with 12 points.

Defense again was the key for Karns City. It’s been a constant for the Gremlins and they hope it will be again in the championship game at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Tippin.

“We pride ourselves on defense,” Andreassi said. “That’s been our thing all year. “We have to keep pressure on the offensive end. That’s where we need to be better.”