LANSDALE — Salisbury barely squeaked by District 12 runner-up Imhotep Charter, 57-56, at Lansdale Catholic on Friday night in an opening-round game of the PIAA 2A playoffs.
The difference was a key three-point play by Falcon Kelly Garrigan with just 18 seconds left on the clock, and a long shot with seconds to play by the Panthers' Taylor Scruggs that missed being a three-pointer because she had a foot on the three-point line.
Garrigan took the rebound off a Meagan Eripret missed shot and hesitated for a split second. She then took the shot and was fouled. She calmly hit the free throw that proved to be the difference in the game. She finished with six points.
"It was in my mind that it could be [the winning basket]," Garrigan said. "I just focused. [The rebound] was kind of unexpected, but the second I got it I thought: This is it, it's my senior year. And I just went for it. I focused on the shot and I got fouled.
"Usually I get really nervous [on the foul line], but I thought this could be one of my last games as a senior. So I just let it all go and I shot, just like in practice."
The Falcons (18-8) had some early problems with the Panthers' 'havoc-like' defense and were down 2-0 before 20 seconds were played. Eripret broke the run with a pair of foul shots, then hit two baskets and a pair of foul shots sandwiching three Imhotep points to give Salisbury an 8-7 lead.
The Falcons continued their hot hand and went on an 8-0 run before Imhotep's Bionca Dunham scored.
The Falcons continued to pour the points in during the second quarter and built their biggest lead, 30-18, at the half. Eripret continued to pace the Falcons with 16 points, despite picking up her second foul late in the first quarter and spending time on the Falcon bench.
Havoc reigned again, as Imhotep went on their own 8-0 run to start the second half, despite two early timeouts by Falcon coach Joe Mladosich.
"We had a nice lead in the first half, but I knew they'd come back," Mladosich said. "They're very aggressive. We gave up the lead, but we responded well. They're big, they're tall and their guards are good. I'm very happy. It's a great, great win for us."
At times, Imhotep's aggressiveness pushed the line. There was a lot of holding and Reynolds even threw a punch at Garrigan in the third quarter.
"We knew this team was physical," said Kelly Gonoude, who finished with eight points. "We just had to get tougher because we don't usually play teams that are that physical. We knew we had a chance against them. We just toughened up and did our thing. Usually the more aggressive teams don't have tall girls."
Imhotep took its first lead since the first quarter with 4:44 remaining in the game when Reynolds hit a three-pointer to make the score 50-49. Salisbury didn't panic, and when Reynolds hit a two-pointer to tie the score, 56-56, the Falcons knew they had the game in hand. Then Garrigan took the deal and did her thing.
Eripret led all scorers with 34 points, 12 of them free throws in a very physical game under the boards.
"This was one of the more physical teams we have played," Eripret said. "The difference this time was that I was expecting it to be more physical, so I was ready for it. I wasn't going to let myself get pushed around a lot. Our recovery was all about our focus."
John Heilig is a freelance writerCopyright © 2015, CT Now