Exhale, Buckskin Nation.
Your Conestoga Valley girls basketball team is finally in the win column in a league game, and the Bucks can thank Laela Robinson for that.
CV’s senior sniper drove the length of the floor and drew a foul while driving to the hoop at the fourth-quarter buzzer, and she gave the Bucks a riveting 69-68 Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1-2 crossover victory when she hit the second of two free throws on an empty court with no time remaining.
“I was actually hoping I would have made the layup, but it was too late for that,” Robinson said. “After I missed the first one I just took a deep breath and I was able to make the second one.”
And her teammates bum-rushed the court in celebration on Senior Night in Witmer.
It was a stinger loss for McCaskey, which used a 20-0 first-quarter spree for a 20-2 lead and a 23-10 cushion heading into the second quarter. The Red Tornado dodged CV’s second-quarter comeback for a 30-27 halftime lead, and McCaskey had a 24-point third-quarter explosion for a 54-43 cushion heading into the fourth.
Anisha Sepulveda had 18 of her career-high 32 points in the second half for McCaskey, including a buzzer-beater layup at the third-quarter horn.
Undaunted, CV (1-4 league, 5-5 overall) mounted a fourth-quarter rally; Taylor Hehnly popped in 13 of her season-high 28 points in the final stanza, including a pair of money 3-pointers. Her first trey knotted the game at 64-64 with 2:51 to play, and Hehnly’s corner triple gave the Bucks a 67-66 lead with 1:41 showing.
“She took charge and really helped us,” CV coach Bill Moore said about Hehnly’s heroics. “She stepped up and made some big shots.”
McCaskey (0-7, 2-10) was ahead 59-51 with 5:27 to go when Sepulveda splashed a wing 3-pointer. Later, the Tornado tied it at 68-68 when Elaina Foley hit a foul shot with 33.1 seconds to go. Earlier, Foley flipped in a runner in the lane for McCaskey’s final lead, 66-64, with 2:29 to play.
After CV turned it over with time running out, McCaskey had the ball back, looking for a potential game-winning shot. But CV poked away a steal and the ball ended up in Robinson’s hands.
She sprinted the length of the floor, drew a foul, and won it at the line after the clock hit zeroes. Robinson had 13 points and Morgan Martin had 10 points and 13 rebounds for CV.
“They kept fighting,” Moore said about his squad, “and we had a chance at the end of the game. That’s all we can ask for.”
Mariah Ruth ripped three 3-pointers and poured in 16 points to compliment Sepulveda, who also nailed three treys. McCaskey also forced 28 turnovers, but the Tornado couldn’t slam the door late.
“It was a good start, but we should have finished the game better,” McCaskey coach Brian McCloud said. “Trying to teach them how to win has been difficult. But I thought they tried to do what we asked them to do. When they do that, that’s all you can ask for. We’ll remain positive because we have talent. We have 10 more games to go, and we’re not going to give in or give out.”