JOHNSTOWN — The Scotia-Glenville girls' basketball team built leads and let them get away Thursday night at Johnstown, but never lost its desire to battle.
That proved huge down the stretch after the Lady Bills put together the Foothills Council game's longest run, and put itself in position for an upset win.
"This was the first time all season the mental toughness was there all the way through," Tartans coach Megan Bowman said after her team pulled out a 57-53 victory. "In the first half we missed 25 shots, and that included a lot of layups. We stayed with it."
They did so even after Johnstown's 10-0 fourth-quarter push that had the hosts on top 53-51 with less than two minutes to go.
"Playing on their court, we knew we had to have that mental toughness," said Scotia-Glenville junior Mikyla Mitchell, who had a basket and three significant late-game plays that helped her team prevail. "We had to work through the fouls and the calls."
Mitchell had a call go her way, which swung momentum toward Scotia-Glenville (7-3 Foothills, 8-4 overall), and kick-started a closing 6-0 run that clinched its fourth consecutive win.
With four fouls, Mitchell gambled and stepped in defensively as Abbygail Vanderwalker drove baseline and put up a shot. The ball dropped through, yet Vanderwalker was whistled for a charge as Johnstown's lead remained at 53-51.
"I couldn't let their girl get a wide open layup," Mitchell said. "I put the team on my back. I was thinking, 'They've got to call this.' I knew it would get my team hyped up if they did. It gave us the momentum to finish out the game."
"I knew we were going to win the game after that call," Bowman said.
Mitchell set up a layup by Kaitlyn Wilson on Scotia-Glenville's ensuing trip that tied the game at 53 with 57 seconds left. A steal and a layup by Mitchell nudged the Tartans ahead 55-53 with 19 seconds to go. After Johnstown lost the ball out of bounds, Wilson sank two free throws with 9.8 seconds remaining.
"Down the stretch, some plays didn't go our way," Johnstown coach Tim Derwin said. "Some calls didn't go our way."
Earlier in the fourth, Johnstown (4-6, 5-6) put together a superb stretch of basketball that resulted in 10 unanswered points. Amber Tesi converted a 3-point play mid-run as part of her 13-point, 12-rebound effort.
Jaden Wilson led Johnstown with 14 points, and Anna Lee delivered 12 points to go with five assists.
"This was the best game we've played all year," Derwin said. "We had balanced scoring against a good team. We did a lot of good things. You've got to walk away and take the positives."
Mitchell finished with 19 points, going 6-for-6 from the line, and five steals. Ashlyn O'Neil scored 10 points, including a pair of 3s that sparked an 8-0 run early on the fourth quarter that gave the Tartans a 51-43 advantage. Johnstown's comeback began afterward on a jumper by Wilson.
"We had some hiccups," Bowman said. "We stayed composed."
Bowman said Thursday's game was Scotia-Glenville's first with all 11 of its players healthy. Wilson had missed the last several games, including league wins over South Glens Falls and Broadalbin-Perth, while Mitchell and Jazmyne Corker missed action early in the season when the Tartans lost to Queensbury and Gloversville.
"We've got that chip on our shoulder," Bowman said. "We didn't think we'd have four losses at this time."
Mitchell scored seven points in the third quarter when Scotia-Glenville turned a 32-25 deficit into a 43-43 tie.
"She is tough," Derwin said of the junior standout. "She is lightning quick and goes to the hoop so strong, and she's got tools around her."
O'Neil 4-0-10, Winney 3-0-7, Hernandez 1-0-2, Wilson 3-2-8, J. Carker 1-1-4, Paskiewica 1-0-2, M. Mitchell 6-6-19, P. Mitchell 1-0-3, Nichter 0-2-2. Totals: 20-11-57.
Lee 5-2-12, Mraz 1-0-3, Sasaki 2-0-5, Tesi 5-3-13, Vanderwalker 2-0-4, VanValkenburgh 0-2-2, Wilson 6-2-14. Totals: 21-9-53.
Scotia-Glenville 15 10 18 14 — 57
Johnstown 17 15 11 10 — 53