JOHNSONBURG – The Ramettes got a 20-point night out of junior Brittany Watts as the Ramettes (4-5) stunned Kane (8-3) Friday in a 46-42 upset in Paper City.
After going cold at the charity stripe for the latter part of the fourth quarter while trying to secure the game, Johnsonburg got its 4-point cushion as Kassa Kocjancic converted her second free throw attempt for the 46-42 lead with six seconds on the clock. A final uncontested 3-point try sailed over the hoop as the Ramettes shocked the Lady Wolves.
"We came out on fire and I told the girls to stay hungry, and play competitive basketball against a very good team," said Johnsonburg head girls varsity basketball coach Mike Zilkofski following the win. "Kane was 8-2 coming into [Friday] and we came out on fire, ran the plays right, and didn't turn the ball over. We made our shots and Chelsea Benson had a heck of a game taking the ball to the basket, and I wanted to see us push the ball up the court and tire the other team out.
"We were able to tire Kane's bigger players out and the game worked. I went to a 2-3 zone defense because I wanted to pack it in since they had two big girls underneath but I knew their outside shooting wasn't very good."
The Ramettes held a comfortable margin throughout the game until Dawn Saquin nailed a huge 3-pointer immediately following an inbounds pass with 35 seconds on the clock in the third quarter to cut the lead to 35-31. However, Kane could not get past Johnsonburg's 4-point cushion.
Benson and senior Kiana Myers opened the fourth quarter with consecutive field goals to up the lead to 39-31. Kane immediately chipped away at the lead with a Saquin field goal and a free throw on the next possession after Johnsonburg turned the ball over.
Benson was sent to the line with 4:52 to play but converted only one attempt for a 6-point lead. Saquin's next trip to the line was fruitless but Watts cashed in on the other end after being fouled with 4:02 on the clock. Her first free throw try went through, giving her a 20-point night and Johnsonburg a 41-34 lead.
The fouling trend continued as Saquin went to the line again, this time a perfect 2-for-2. She finished just 5-for-12 from the charity stripe but paced the Lady Wolves with 14 points.
Nursing a 5-point lead with just under four minutes to play, Zilkofski turned to sophomore upstart Benson who continued to have her way under the hoop with a layup with 3:42 on the clock for a 43-36 lead.
Looking to preserve the advantage, Johnsonburg would go to the line nine times in the final three minutes of the game but walked away with only two points.
After a Myers miss with roughly three minutes to go, Johnsonburg senior Danie Jo Dwyer strolled to the bench after her fifth foul, sending Kane's Audrey Perry to the line. Perry missed both and Benson was fouled on the other end, and converted one shot for an 8-point advantage.
Kane continued to stay in it as they converted four of their final six free throw attempts. Saquin hit 1-of-2 to cut the lead to 44-37 but Johnsonburg junior Rhianon Fowler answered right back with her own 1-for-2 effort. Victory, who was 6-for-7 on the night, drained two more free throws on the next possession to cut the lead to 45-39 as Johnsonburg continued to strike out on free throws.
Myers' two tries with 49 seconds remaining missed the net and Perry scored a free throw on the other end to cut the lead to 45-40. After missing her second try, Kaila Jamerson scored a putback to trim the margin to a one-possession game, prompting a timeout. An ill-timed pass was intercepted as Kane threw up an immediate 3-point shot that teased the net but fell short. Myers was fouled after the inbounds pass but failed on both shots.
With 12 seconds to go, an errant inbounds pass by Kane sailed wide, giving the Ramettes possession again. Kocjancic was then fouled and made one of her two shots for a 46-42 lead, and the eventual win.
"I told the team that we'll take the win but that's uncalled for," said Zilkofski, referencing a 41 percent night from the free throw line, including just 2-for-9 in the final three minutes. "That is not my philosophy, we have to make the foul shots. Of course we're going to get fouled with the lead and we have to make those shots. At the end there, we needed at least one of two to make it a 4-point game.
"We're shooting 20 to 30 foul shots each game and I don't know if it's pressure, but in a game like this with a good team with a winning record, it come down to fundamentals and putting a team away."
With a 12-for-29 showing from behind the line, in addition to a slew of layups rimming out, Zilkofski said he felt the deficit should've been greater.
"We should've beat Kane by more than that with making those foul shots," Zilkofski said. "It probably could've been a 10-point game but I'm still happy with how we played. We stayed hungry and despite having a few lapses with turnovers, I was proud of the way we played and we controlled the ball at the end and made them foul us."
Watts was most pleased with Watts' performance despite fouling out with less than a minute to go in a game that was still ultimately undecided.
The shooter was hot early, however, scoring a layup two-and-a-half minutes into the game to tie the game at 4-all. Watts swooshed another shot in the paint at the halfway point of the first quarter to increase the home team's lead to 8-6. Watts went on to score back-to-back layups with two minutes to go in the first frame for a 14-6 lead. She tossed in another layup with 35 seconds on the clock in the first quarter for a 17-8 lead, and a 10-point first quarter.
"Brittany Watts has a soft shot in the paint and Kane let her shoot it," Zilkofski said. "I told her she can take those big girls all the time and she took her soft shot in the first half, and that's where she got most of her points.
"[Watts] also knows when to take it to the basket but she has to stay out of foul trouble. It's her first year starting at varsity and she's going to keep on learning."
Watts hit two jumpers in the second quarter as the Ramettes took a 6-point lead to the locker room. Watts had seven 2-point field goals at the half and scored another five points in the third quarter off two layups and a free throw.
Johnsonburg, riding a modest 2-game winning streak, will look to keep the momentum going Tuesday as they travel to Curwensville. Kane will look to right the ship Tuesday as they travel to DuBois Central Catholic.