Heartbreaker: Moshannon Valley’s season ends on half-court shot at buzzer

HOUTZDALE — Moshannon Valley had just taken a two-point lead with less than five seconds to play in its District 6 Class 2A first round playoff game against Homer-Center Monday night.

The Damsels had the gymnasium going wild as the student section prepared to mob the players at midcourt.

Homer-Center made a last ditch effort to inbound the ball and get a shot off before a whistle was blown with 0.4 of a second left.

Lady Wildcats coach Tom Lasher had called a timeout. The referees put some time back on the clock, and Homer-Center inbounded from near halfcourt with 1.6 seconds left. Faith Buggey took the pass, dribbled twice, stopped and leapt in the air, releasing her shot from beyond halfcourt.

It banked in as the Lady Wildcats went wild, celebrating a 49-48 victory that moved them into a quarterfinal matchup with top-seeded Penns Manor on Wednesday.

“I was watching the clock when she got the ball,” said Moshannon Valley senior point guard Emma Kitko as tears streamed from her eyes. “She was still dribbling with 0.8 on the clock, and I knew she wasn’t going to be able to get the shot off. So whenever I looked at the refs at the end, the one didn’t even know she shot it, and the other one just threw his hands up. My heart is broken. I just can’t believe it.

“For our season to end like that, on our home court, I just can’t believe it. We lost last year here in a close game, but it was nothing like that. For that to be my last game ever, it’s really upsetting.”

Alexis Knepp’s runner in the lane went through the basket with 3.5 seconds left to give Moshannon Valley a 48-46 lead. Homer-Center inbounded the ball immediately after the shot but made it just beyond the 3-point line and not quite to midcourt before the whistle was blown, stopping the clock with 0.4 of a second left.

“(The referee) didn’t say anything to me,” Lasher said. “I was shaking my head in disgust, because I thought I called the timeout earlier with whatever time was on the clock. There was no fault to the officials, there was a lot of noise, and they just couldn’t hear me. So I think they did the right thing. I don’t think that was the wrong thing, but I was trying to call timeout and more time ran off the clock.”

The extra 1.2 seconds made all the difference.

“It was very frustrating,” Moshannon Valley coach Mary Jo Kitko said. “I don’t even know why they added time back on the clock. I didn’t think they had that time.”

Moshannon Valley had a hard time accepting that Buggey had time to dribble twice and get a shot off in just 1.6 seconds.

“They are devastated,” Mary Jo Kitko said. “They know that shot shouldn’t have counted, and they know they should have had the game. It is just very upsetting to them and me.”

The loss ended the high school careers of Emma Kitko, Knepp, Chloe Blake and McKenzie McCoy, who missed the game due to a right foot injury she sustained last Wednesday.

“Missing McKenzie was a big deal for us,” Mary Jo Kitko said. “She’s a four-year starter, and it was tough.”

Buggey’s heave at the buzzer made her the game’s high scorer with 15 points.

“Usually at the end of every practice, we let them spend three or four minutes just trying those shots,” Lasher said. “It’s not something we work on, but during the course of the season we have some fun and try. Whether that helped us or not, I don’t know, but we’ll assume it did.”

Kitko led Moshannon Valley with 14 points, and Sydney Bubb, who started for McCoy, added 11 points. Seven of Bubb’s points came in the fourth quarter, including a jumper that tied the game at 46 with a minute to play.

“She really stepped up at the end of the game and hit a couple of shots,” Mary Jo Kitko said. “She brought the ball up for us when they were bringing pressure, and she did a really nice job.”

Homer-Center turned the ball over with 10.3 seconds left, and the Damsels ran an excellent inbounds play in which Blake found a cutting Knepp for the go-ahead shot in the final seconds.

“We’ve been running it all year, and Lexi did a great job getting to the hoop,” Mary Jo Kitko said. “We were going to pull it out and wait for the last shot, but she saw the lane and took advantage of it.”

Moshannon Valley lost a playoff game on its home court for the second straight year. It lost to United last season.

“Playing with my friends meant so much,” Emma Kitko said. “We worked so hard, and we got to see it pay off with our record. We wanted two more wins on that record, but to go 14-9, we at least finished as winners.”

HOMER-CENTER (49): Page 2 1-2 6, Walbeck 2 0-0 4, Buggey 7 0-0 15, Kochman 6 0-0 13, Sisak 1 0-0 2, Berfield 0 6-6 6, Clark 0 0-0 0, Zenisek 1 0-0 3. Totals — 19 7-8 49.

MOSHANNON VALLEY (48): Kitko 5 0-1 14, Blake 2 3-4 7, Knepp 3 2-2 8, Dotts 2 0-0 4, Bubb 5 0-1 11, McClelland 2 0-0 4. Totals — 19 5-8 48.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Homer-Center 10 12 14 13 — 49

Moshannon Valley 8 12 12 16 — 48

3-point goals: Homer-Center 4 (Buggey Kochman, Zenisek, Page); Moshannon Valley 5 (Kitko 4, Bubb).

Records: Homer-Center (9-13); Moshannon Valley (14-9).

Officials: Tim Hite, Larry Stitt, Rick Dillon

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