Faith Lutheran’s Kelsey Howryla had 12 rebounds Thursday night, but the biggest came with 1:14 to play.
Howryla rebounded her own miss, was fouled and made two free throws to give the Crusaders the lead, and they held on for a 50-47 home win over Palo Verde.
“I think she was mad at herself for missing the layup,” Faith Lutheran coach Jennifer Karner said. “So she just went back to battle.
“Like I said, this team never quits. It’s good to see, especially from a young group, that their heart is in the game and they want to keep going.”
Palo Verde took a 45-44 lead on Alyssa Maillaro’s fourth 3-pointer of the second half with 3:49 to play. A fast-break bucket by Maya Bega extended the lead to three, but Faith Lutheran scored the final six points to claim the win.
Howryla, who had 13 points, made the two free throws with 1:14 left to give Faith Lutheran a 48-47 lead, and Taylor Etopio made two foul shots with 51.5 seconds left for the final margin.
The Crusaders (8-1, 3-0 Northwest League) were 15-for-34 (44.1 percent) from the free-throw line but made 6 of 8 in the final two minutes.
“We’ve been up and down with free-throw percentage all year,” Karner said. “Sometimes we’re at 70 percent, sometimes we’re at 50 percent. Tonight we did enough, I guess.”
Etopio had 13 points, eight rebounds and four steals, and Ellie Fried added 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench for Faith Lutheran.
Maillaro had 20 points, five rebounds, four assists, five steals and two blocked shots to lead the Panthers (3-4, 1-1). Kedrena Johnson added 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists for Palo Verde. The Panthers had little chance to make a comeback after Maillaro and Johnson fouled out in the final two minutes, leaving them without a go-to scoring or ballhandling option.
“We told them to attack them right away when we saw they had foul trouble,” Karner said. “It took us awhile on a few of them, but we eventually got them out.”