FONDA — The first free throw was like a rockslide, banging and clunking several times on the rim before dropping down.
The second free throw was Rockslide II.
To Johnstown’s Anna Lee, though — with the Fonda-Fultonville student section screaming at her from behind the basket — the ball was a harmless pebble, and the only damage done was to the Fonda girls’ basketball team.
Lee made the two free throws with 5.7 seconds left to ice a 66-63 victory for the Lady Bills in the Section II Class B quarterfinals on the Lady Braves’ home court on Wednesday night.
Johnstown (No. 7, 13-9) came back from down 12 early in the fourth quarter, outscoring Fonda (No. 2, 17-4) 21-6 to close the game. That stretch included three 3-pointers from Abby VandeWalker and two from Lee, who finished with 23 points.
Lee said she got an assist on the two big free throws from sports psychologist Dr. Michael Fraser, who suggested she consider a benign and serene image when facing adversity and nerve-racking shots.
“Not going to lie … my legs were shaking,” the junior guard said with a laugh. “But a special person told me one time when I get on the line by myself to just think of it as a pebble, something that won’t kill me if I don’t make it. And it really helped me keep my head straight. Even with the whole fan section cheering, I just wanted to stay in my own head and not let anything affect me.”
The Lady Bills will face Mekeel Christian in the semifinals at 6 p.m. next Tuesday at Averill Park.
Jaden Wilson scored 26 points for Johnstown, including seven points at the beginning of the comeback from down 57-45.
VandeWalker and Lee picked it up from there.
VandeWalker’s first 3 cut it to 57-50, then she hit another to get within 59-58. After Lee’s 3 tied it at 61-61 with 53 seconds left, VandeWalker made a 3 with 16 seconds left for a 64-61 lead.
The Lady Bills hadn’t been ahead since 20-18 with three minutes left in the second quarter.
“I told Crabby — that’s her nickname — even if her shots weren’t going in in the beginning, to keep her head, because we’re eventually going to need her,” Lee said. “And she knocked down one of the biggest shots we needed to get our team going.”
Kyla Smith scored 18 points for Fonda, Carly Atty scored 17, including a 3 to put the Lady Braves ahead 57-45, and Abby Lombardoni finished with 15.
“It was a game of runs,” Johnstown head coach Tim Derwin said. “They made a run, we countered, and we got in some pretty deep trouble there in the fourth quarter. But our defense held, we rebounded and we made big shots.”
“Johnstown hit shots,” Fonda head coach Flip Boshart said. “Abby [VandeWalker] did that against us last time; she made seven. We got the looks we wanted late, and we didn’t knock them down. It’s one of those games where you’re battling, battling, battling. Johnstown never quit.”
In the other Class B quarterfinal at Fonda, Maraya Davis picked up the scoring slack with 20 points as the Mekeel defeated Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk 57-31.
Avery Mills added 16 for the Lions.
“Maraya Davis came out hitting early, and when she hits, we’re hard to guard,” Mekeel head coach Kelsey Collins said. “They came out in a triangle-and-2 on Avery and Mikyla [Mitchell] … [so] somebody’s open. At this point in the season, we’re going to see a lot more of that. But as I like to say, pick your poison.”
MEKEEL CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 57,
RCS 8 7 9 7 — 31
MCA 18 14 12 13 — 57
Ravena scoring: Waddington 1-0-2, Engel 1-3-5, VanDerzee 4-1-9, Sanderson 6-1-15. Mekeel scoring: Mills 7-0-16, Galarneau 0-1-1, M. Mitchell 2-0-5, Ballard 3-2-8, Davis 8-2-20, P. Mitchell 3-1-7. Scoring totals: Ravena 12-5-31, Mekeel 23-6-57.
Johnstown 11 16 16 23 — 66
Fonda 9 22 17 15 — 63
Johnstown scoring: Wilson 9-6-26, Pratt 1-0-2, Lee 6-7-23, Sasaki 2-0-4, VandeWalker 3-0-9, Tesi 1-0-2. Fonda scoring: L. Lombardoni 4-3-11, Smith 4-8-18, Atty 4-6-17, Whitcavitch 1-0-2, A. Lombardoni 4-4-15. Scoring totals: Johnstown 22-13-66, Fonda 17-21-63.