Black Knights Win Thriller Over Gowanda

Silver Creek’s Abby Rice puts up a shot during a CCAA Division 1 East game against Gowanda on Thursday evening in Silver Creek. P-J photo by Lisa Monacelli

SILVER CREEK — Sometimes it’s not about how you start. What matters is how you finish. After Thursday night, it’s safe to say Silver Creek sure knows how to finish.

The Black Knights came out with a thrilling 51-49 victory over Gowanda in CCAA Division 1 East play.

Silver Creek (9-7, 3-5) did not have the start it had hoped for. Gowanda began the game on a 10-2 run, behind three field goals by Alexis Hawkins and a field goal and two free throws by Miya Scanlan. When the first quarter ended, Silver Creek trailed Gowanda 16-6.

Gowanda (6-11, 3-6) extended its lead to 14 points in the second quarter, and Silver Creek trailed at halftime 24-12. Scanlan had 12 points on her own for Gowanda.

In the third quarter, Silver Creek showed signs of life. Facing a 28-14 deficit, the Black Knights stormed back on a 14-2 run to cut the Gowanda lead to only two points, 30-28.

“In the locker room, we talked about closing the gap,” Silver Creek coach Tammy Rice said. “We really focused on coming out and taking a deep breath and collecting ourselves.”

After the third quarter, Silver Creek still trailed, but only slightly, 37-33, heading to the final period of play.

In the fourth quarter, the game began to slip away from Silver Creek again. After a layup by Hawkins, the Panthers rebounded a missed free throw and gave it back to Hawkins for another layup to push their lead back up to eight.

Silver Creek cut it back to four, but Hawkins answered with back-to-back buckets for a 47-39 lead with under three minutes to go.

In the final moments, Scanlan fouled out of the game with just over a minute to go. Hawkins was also forced to leave, leaving the Panthers without their two leading scorers for the stretch run.

“Miya Scanlan and Alexis Hawkins are great players and they both went out,” Rice said. “That worked to our advantage.”

Gowanda committed two costly turnovers and missed key free throws down the stretch, which left the door open for Silver Creek ever so slightly.

Down 48-45 with just over 30 seconds remaining, eighth-grade standout Abby Rice drilled a 3 from the top of the key to tie the game.

“Abby hit that deep 3 at the top of the key … that was exactly what we needed,” Rice said.

Gowanda came back down the court quickly, and after a Silver Creek foul, Gowanda sophomore Nicole Whalen stepped to the free throw line with 10.7 seconds remaining. She missed the first, but made the second, giving Gowanda the 49-48 lead with only seconds remaining.

After a pair of Silver Creek timeouts, the Black Knights inbounded the ball from half-court. Rice was guarded tightly, which opened up an opportunity for Tessa Douglas, the only senior on the team.

Douglas delivered, drilling a turnaround jumper to give Silver Creek its first lead since the first minute of the game.

“She came out and played an amazing second half … and then hit that big outside shot at the end. That was awesome,” an emotional Coach Rice said.

Gowanda turned the ball over on a long inbound pass, and after a free throw by Silver Creek and Gowanda’s inability to get off a last-second full-court heave, the Black Knights were sent jumping into each other’s arms near the bench for the thrilling victory.

“I am super excited for the girls,” Rice said. “Sometimes they struggle with believing in themselves. They really stepped up and played an amazing second half.”

Douglas finished with 12 points, all in the second half. She was second in points on the team, behind Abby Rice’s 19 points. Rice added 10 rebounds and four blocks.

Hawkins and Scanlan each had 19 points for Gowanda.