You could forgive the top-ranked Walkersville High School girls basketball team if they had a case of déjà vu during Tuesday’s game against No. 2 Middletown. It was beginning to look very similar to last year’s game, when Middletown claimed a 53-50 victory.
Last year, Walkersville took an early lead and held on until the Knights rallied in the fourth quarter.
This year, “We didn’t really want to lose to Middletown on our home court, especially my senior year. I wasn’t going to let that happen,” said point guard Dani Medovich, who led the Lions to a 62-57 overtime victory against the Knights. She scored a game-high 22 points.
Walkersville jumped out to a 14-1 lead during the first five minutes of play, but the Knights once again rallied. It was only a 29-27 Lions’ lead at halftime.
In the fourth quarter, Walkersville’s offense went cold, failing to score for 4 minutes, 15 seconds. It was during that stretch that Middletown retook the lead, 46-44 with 1:52 to play on a 15-foot jumper by Carly Tolino, who led her team with 15 points. The Knights increased it to 48-44 with less than a minute to play.
Walkersville’s Bri Nolen and Medovich both were fouled while driving toward the basket. They both made two free throws to force overtime.
“That’s the difference in the game,” Middletown coach Bill Miskell said. “We were good from the free-throw line, they were better. When you have two teams this even, it’s the little things that make the difference.”
Walkersville (2-0) made 22 of its 27 free throw attempts during the game. Middletown (1-1) made 10 of 19.
In overtime, guard Tyra Hughes literally stole it away from Middletown. She opened the scoring after stealing the ball from a Middletown player and being fouled as she tried to break away for easy point. When she did it again a little more than a minute later, Middletown was called for an intentional foul.
“She grabbed a hold of my shorts,” Hughes said, who would have had a wide open layup if she wasn’t held.
After Hughes made both free throws and then scored on a mini-hook shot in the lane 18 seconds later, the Lions led 56-50 with 2:10 remaining in overtime. She finished with 15 points.
Walkersville coach Mike Mathis put the game in the hands of Medovich from there.
“She’s a four-year starter, at point guard, so we expect that out of her,” Mathis said.
Medovich made 12 of 13 free throws, including all four attempts in overtime. She says she practices making clutch free throws.
“We do a game [at the end of practices] and if we lose, we run,” Medovich said. “I always put myself last, so the pressure is on me to make them.”
Mathis said he hopes this victory can carry over into the rest of the season.
“They didn’t give up, they fought through adversity and that’s what a championship team is made of,” Mathis said. “Hopefully we can build off of this.”