ADAMS TWP — Ali Goetz calmly stood at the line and swished free throw after free throw down the stretch.
It was a performance befitting a senior leader. Only Goetz is a sophomore for the Mars girls basketball team.
Goetz scored 17 of her game-high 19 points in the second half and overtime and nearly brought the Planets back from a 16-point hole in the first half.
However, Keystone Oaks overcame a deficit of its own in the second overtime to sink Mars 47-44 Monday night.
Despite the loss, Goetz showed she is ready to take over the leadership role on the young Planets.
“I think she really stepped up in the second half and showed a will to win,” said Mars coach Tony Howard of Goetz. “That’s something we’ve tried to work with her with, to get that leadership role on the court. That’s tough to do when you are a sophomore.”
Goetz hit eight consecutive free throws in the fourth quarter and overtime. She hit two from the line with 25 seconds remaining in regulation to force the first overtime.
“(Goetz is) an unbelievable player,” said Keystone Oaks coach Nikki Presto. “She carried that team. We didn’t want the ball in her hands. When she did get it, we wanted it out.”
Goetz’s heroics weren’t quite enough, though.
Part of that had to do with the Planets’ slow start.
Mars (1-2) struggled against the Keystone Oaks press in the first half and had 21 turnovers by halftime.
The Golden Eagles (2-1) led 23-7 at one point before the Planets started chipping away at the lead.
“We prepared (for the press) in practice, but sometimes you can’t simulate the speed of it,” Howard said. “We were just a little lethargic, a little slow, a little indecisive in the first half.”
Once Mars solved the press, things began going the Planets’ way.
On the other end of the court, Keystone Oaks struggled to solve Mars’ 1-3-1 zone in the second half and scored just nine points in the final two quarters after staking itself to a 25-13 lead at halftime.
“That’s what we’re going to do at practice,” Presto said, laughing. “Practice against the 1-3-1 zone.”
Keystone Oaks, though, found a way to pull out a win, much like the Eagles did last season under Presto, a Slippery Rock University graduate.
Presto has the same starting five back this season after her team advanced to the PIAA Class AA playoffs.
This year, the Eagles moved up to Class AAA and winning games like this one is crucial, Presto said.
“We’re learning and growing every day,” Presto said. “We’re a young group (one senior starter), but we’re experienced from last year. I think that experience helped tonight.”
Maryssa Agurs led the Eagles with 12 points. She had five in the second overtime, hitting a key 3-pointer after her team had fallen behind 43-38 and made a steal and a layup to put Keystone Oaks up for good with 40 seconds remaining.
Even with the loss, Mars is in better shape than it was last year when it started the season 0-5.
The Planets recovered from that poor start to win their last five games and earn a playoff spot.
“Playingwise, the second half and in overtime is kind of what we played our way into at the end of last season,” Howard said. “That was good to see.”
KEYSTONE OAKS 47
Maryssa Agurs 4-10 3-4 12, Julia Welch 1-6 2-2 4, Lexi Mercuri 4-12 0-2 9, Kayla Brownlee 2-9 2-4 7, Holly Kendall 3-5 2-6 8, Maryah Agurs 0-0 1-2 1, Mariah Berman 0-0 0-0 0, Kylue Brinning 2-2 2-2 6, Sarah Abbott 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-45 12-23 47.
Jessica Bunner 3-8 2-4 8, Sara Getsy 1-9 4-8 7, Teresa Dallatore 1-3 0-0 2, Ali Goetz 5-12 9-13 19, Alyssa Mathews 0-2 0-1 0, Bonnie Workman 1-4 1-2 3, Daniella Paras 1-4 3-4 5, Paige Casora 0-4 0-0 0. Totals: 12-46 19-32 44.
Keystone Oaks 15 10 3 6 4 9—47
Mars3 10 9 12 4 6—44
3-pointers: Keystone Oaks 3 (Maryssa Agurs, Brownlee, Mercuri). Mars 1 (Getsy)
JV: Keystone Oaks 39-27
Thursday: Valley at Mars