Palmyra's Molly Gundermann nailed a 3-pointer as regulation came to a close and scored the game-winning point in OT
PALMYRA - Molly Gundermann had a front row seat to the layups that put her team behind and then nearly away for good. So with time set to expire, the Palmyra senior thrust herself on center stage and then her team into the win column.
Firing away with seconds remaining in regulation, Gundermann connected on a game-tying 3-pointer and later knocked down the eventual game-winning free throw in overtime Tuesday to supply the Cougars with a needed 33-29 win over Mechanicsburg. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for Palmyra (2-4, 1-2 Mid-Penn Keystone), which received nine points and 11 rebounds from Gundermann. Senior Kailey Werkheriser also scored in the extra session and finished with nine points.
"We knew we had to take that shot if it was open," Gundermann said of her game-saving effort. "Overall it's been a tough stretch. It's hard, it's a new team. We're still working out some kinks, but I think as we keep practicing, we'll get better and better."
The Wildcats (5-1, 2-1), meanwhile, suffered their first loss of the season, despite holding a 27-24 advantage with as little as four seconds left, sprung into the lead by a pair of last-minute Jordan Hertz lay-ins. Hertz posted a game-high 10 points over a night that predominately featured Mechanicsburg leads, beginning at the 4:17 mark of the opening quarter.
Palmyra's Hannah McLucas at last flipped the script during the infancy of the fourth, sinking her only 3-pointer of the night from atop the key. Now leading 22-21, the Cougars maintained a one-score edge until less than a minute remained thanks to an untimely handful of turnovers. While Hertz personally took full advantage, Mechanicsburg's collective miscues, such as a 2-for-9 showing at the foul line and 15 total giveaways, kept it from shutting the door completely.
"We didn't play well enough to win tonight," Wildcats coach Clay McCallister said. "We hoped to get a trap on the ball at the back end of the floor there at the very end, and we didn't do it. And then Molly made the shot."
Gundermann's decisive long ball settled as her first and last of the night, a fact due in large part to Hertz's tough individual defense. While Werkheiser and others attempted to pick up the slack offensively, their senior leader contributed in other ways, including serving as the team's top rebounder. Classmate and fellow varsity returner Josie Stovall cleaned up the glass as well, finishing with eight boards.
Beset by long-range shooting woes, the Cougars trailed 17-12 at halftime, before closing their deficit to one upon entering the final quarter.
"A win like this builds up confidence for us," Palmyra coach Ron Berman said. "I was probably as excited for these kids as I was in the state playoffs the last couple years just because they've been trying so hard."
Palmyra 33, Mechanicsburg 29
Jordan Hertz 4 2-4 10, Suzy Badorf 2 0-1 4, Megan Schrass 3 0-0 7, Rachel Deveney 3 0-2 8. Totals — 12 2-9 29.
Amelia Baldo 2 1-3 5, Hannah McLucas 1 0-0 3, Kailey Werkheiser 2 4-5 9, Molly Gundermann 3 2-4 9, Josie Stovall 2 1-2 6, Olivia Richardson 0 1-2 1. Totals — 10 9-16 33.
Mech_ 11 _ 6_ 4_ 6 _2 _ — _ 29
Pal_ 6_ 6 _ 7 _ 8 _6_ — _ 33
3-point goals — Mech 3 (Deveney 2, Schrass), Pal 4 (Gundermann, McLucas, Werkheiser, Stovall).