Patriots Sink Panthers at Foul Line

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DOYLESTOWN – Paul Veltre talked of repeating his team’s Cinderella story of 2008 when William Tennent upset Central Bucks East in the opening round of the District One AAAA tournament.
In truth, no one really gave the 2010 Panthers - seeded 30th in the 32-team field - much of a chance to duplicate that feat when the two teams met in an opening round rematch on Saturday.
No one, that is, except Veltre and his players.
For a while, it looked as though it might happen, but East’s Melissa Remmey calmly sank six-of-six from the foul line in the final 41 seconds of the game – twice burying both ends of a one-and-one, and the third-seeded Patriots held off an inspired Panther squad for the 44-41 win.
“We all played our hearts out,” Tennent junior Ashley Alden said. “We’re spent.
“I don’t think anyone has anything left, and that’s all anyone can ask. I have nothing left.”
Alden turned to teammate Sarah Godfrey.
“Sarah has nothing left,” Alden said. “I’m about to collapse right now.”
It was that kind of gutsy effort that enabled the underdog Panthers to extend the Patriots to the limit before falling.
“We always thought we could win,” said Godfrey, biting back tears. “We have been preparing for the last three days. These were the best practices we ever had.
“I’m really proud of everybody. We were only one shot away from going on.”
And then Godfrey’s voice broke. Coming so close, the senior forward acknowledged, made the loss even more heartbreaking.
“It’s definitely worse to know it was right there,” Godfrey said.
“It was right in our reach,” Alden added.
Despite the outcome, Veltre was feeling nothing but pride after Saturday’s nail biter in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd.
“This is the best game we have played all season,” the Panthers’ coach said. “Not all of them were able to experience this type of atmosphere a couple of years ago, and I wanted it for them.”
On the other side of the court, the relief was palpable, and no one- according to senior Liz Martin - should have been surprised to see Remmey deliver from the foul line in the clutch.
 “Oh my god, we have so much confidence in her,” Martin said of her teammate. “When she was a freshman, she actually made the two game-winning free throws to win us a game in districts.
“We just have so much confidence in her. She’s just a great foul shooter.”
The Panthers, who kept it close through three quarters, fell behind by 10 (36-26) after Remmy buried a foul line jumper with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.
On the Panthers’ ensuing possession, Godfrey gave her team life by hitting nothing but net on a baseline three.
“We stayed focused and put it all out there, doing everything we could do and not giving up on any play because every play, every shot – it all counts, especially in a close game like this,” Godfrey said.
It was a 38-36 game after Alden, who led the Panthers with 12 points, scored on a drive with 1:30 remaining in regulation. The Patriots misfired on the front end of a one-and-one, but the Panthers couldn’t capitalize, coming up short on their shot for the tie. Remmey came up with the rebound of the miss and was fouled immediately.
She hit nothing but net on both ends of the one-and-one to make it a 40-36 game with 41 seconds remaining.
“I felt kind of nervous, but we practice foul shots so much, and I knew I could make them,” Remmey said. “I knew I had to make them for my teammates too.
“They all played so hard this game, and I didn’t give myself an option. I knew I had to make them.”
The drama was just beginning.
With 26 seconds remaining, Tennent point guard Alison Malatesta buried a three to make it a 40-39 game. Three seconds later, Remmey found herself on the foul line for another one-and-one. Again, she was golden.
The Panthers saw 18 seconds tick off the clock before Liz Koval scored on a drive with five seconds remaining to make it a 42-41 game.
Remmey was fouled on the inbounds, and once again, she delivered, connecting on a pair for the 44-41 final.
“That’s what we’ve been working toward all year,” East coach Tom Lonergan said. “The foul line has been good to us all year.”
As the final horn sounded, the Panthers walked off the court in silent disbelief while the celebration began on the Patriots’ sidelines - a combination of pure joy and also immense relief.
“It was stressful,” Liz Martin said. “We were worried, but we knew we couldn’t act worried. We had to pump each other up.
“I knew we would be able to pull it out because I have confidence in my teammates. They’ll finish from the line, but it was scary.”
Martin admits she wasn’t surprised that the Patriots had their hands full with the Panthers.
“Their conference is much tougher, and I don’t think their seed says what a great team they are,” she said. “We knew it was going to be a battle.
“Obviously, they didn’t want to lose, and we didn’t want to lose. Everyone was so nervous. We knew it was going to be a battle.”
Martin led the Patriots with a glittering 19-point performance, and it was the senior captain’s effort that kept her team in the game. Martin had five points in a first quarter that saw the Panthers – sparked by three three’s – go on top 13-9.
Behind Martin’s six points as well as four points from both Remmey and Kristina Pogue, the Patriots outscored the Panthers 15-4 in the second quarter to go into halftime with a 24-17 lead.
Down but not out, the Panthers outscored the Patriots 9-6 in the third quarter, setting the stage for the dramatic fourth-quarter finish.
East will face Spring-Ford in a second round game on Wednesday. The Rams defeated Garnet Valley 65-39 in an opening round game.
William Tennent               13           4              9              15-41
Central Bucks East           9              15           6              14-44
William Tennent (41) – Alison Malatesta 2 2-2 8; Allison Chatburn 1 0-0 2; Sarah Godfrey 2 0-0 6; Melissa Horn 1 0-0 3; Ashley Alden 5 2-3 12; Melissa Wasserleben 0 0-0 0; Emily O’Donnell 0 2-2 2; Morgan Taylor 0 0-0 0; Liz Koval 4 0-0 8. TOTALS 15 6-7 41.
Central Bucks East (44) – Melissa Remmey 2 8-8 12; Kristina Pogue 2 1-3 5; Shannon Devlin 0 0-0 0; Sarah Martin 1 3-4 5; Liz Martin 7 5-5 19; Jenna Sanfilippo 0 0-0 0; Courtney McManus 1 0-0 3. TOTALS 13 17-21 44.
3-point goals: Tennent – Godfrey 2, Malatesta 2, Horn. CB East – McManus.