Liz Zwally has spent the last couple of basketball seasons hobbling around on a pair cranky knees. She has missed multiple games in her prep career, but Lancaster Catholic’s senior — finally healthy — has worked her way back into a starting role this season.
Friday night, Zwally came up clutch for the Crusaders.
The catch-and-shooter hit a a pair of must-have, fourth-quarter 3-pointers, and Zwally made a pair of go-ahead foul shots with 18 seconds to play, giving Catholic a thrilling 48-46 victory over Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three champ Cocalico in a showdown crossover clash at Catholic.
Zwally’s late 3-pointers helped the Crusaders erase an eight-point second-half deficit.
“It felt great,” Zwally said. “Those two buckets really had my heart going. But it was a great feeling hearing my coach screaming, ‘Yeah, Zwally!’”
Cocalico, which had its nine-game winning streak snapped, was cruising along early in the third quarter; the Eagles took a 33-25 lead on Izzy Mack’s wing 3-pointer with 2:55 to go.
Undaunted, Catholic (4-0 league, 8-2 overall) got it right back, when Mary Bolesky drilled back-to-back treys, cutting Cocalico’s lead to 33-31. Bolesky scored 12 points and Sophia Wentz chipped in with 10 points for the Crusaders.
But Hannah Custer and Naleah Sauder answered with buckets for the Eagles, who took a 37-33 lead into the fourth quarter. There, Cocalico got a transition layup from Custer, a baseline jumper from Kiersten Shipton and a 3-ball by Mack (14 points) for a 40-33 lead.
That’s when Zwally caught fire. First, she splashed a 3-pointer to cut Cocalico’s lead to 44-41 with 3:06 to go. Then Zwally swished a wing trey with 1:12 left, giving Catholic a 45-44 lead.
“I wanted the ball there,” Zwally said. “In that moment I felt it. I knew I had to catch it and shoot it in rhythm, and I was able to do that. It felt really good.”
Custer (14 points) answered at the other end with a driving layup for Cocalico’s last lead, 46-45, with 1:01 to go. Zwally gave Catholic, the Section Four leader, the lead for good, 47-46, when she hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 18 seconds showing.
“Ice in the veins with those foul shots,” Catholic coach Charlie Detz said. “Liz is the mother hen on this team. She’s the one making sure everyone is taking care of things outside of basketball. She’s the one making sure everybody knows what’s expected of them. She’s been a phenomenal leader for us.”
Cocalico (7-1, 13-2) got one last shot, but Mack’s 3-pointer with one second to go spun out. Zwally grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and hit the game-icing foul shot at the other end, and the Crusaders’ bench breathed a sigh of relief.
“When you’re playing Catholic, and if you take a moment to relax, they’re going to capitalize,” Cocalico coach Andrew Garrett said. “There were some moments where we were relaxed, and they made us pay for it. But this game was great for us. Obviously it would have felt better if we came out on top. But these kinds of close, intense games are what the rest of our season is going to look like.”
NOTES — Catholic hit three buzzer-beaters Friday: Wentz's drive beat the first-quarter horn, giving the Crusaders a 14-10 lead; Bolseky's dribble-drive layup beat the second-quarter horn, cutting Cocalico's lead to 27-24 at the half; and Madelyn Card's coast-to-coast layup beat the third-quarter horn, slicing the Eagles' lead to 37-33. ... Catholic out-rebounded Cocalico 27-22; Wentz had seven boards for the Crusaders and Olivia Sensenig had seven rebounds for the Eagles. ... Both teams had 14 turnovers in the game. ... For the first time in 15 games this season, Cocalico's Kiersten Shipton did not make a 3-pointer; she had been the only player in the L-L League to make at least one trey in every game so far this winter.