The P.K. Yonge girls basketball team entered Friday’s Class 3A-Region 1 Final at Providence (Jacksonville) seeking its first final four appearance in four years.
And even though the Lady Blue Wave spent much of the game playing catch up, there was a brief moment when it looked like they may find a way.
However, a late 7-0 run by the Stallions proved to be the difference in a 64-58 loss on the road.
That came on the heels of an 8-0 run by P.K. Yonge to tie the game at 55-all with 2:27 remaining.
“It was a game of runs but I know my girls gave me everything they could,” said P.K. Yonge coach Willie Powers. “Sometimes shots don’t fall, rebounds we don’t get, missed assignments because we’re tired, but there is no way they could hang their head on that game because we really played hard. We did some really good things, and we fought.”
Down 55-47, freshman Ashlyn Young started the late run with an and-one and then a layup to cut the deficit to three, 55-52, with 3:29 remaining.
Young scored 13 of her game-high 26 points in the final quarter for the Blue Wave (16-4).
“She’s that type of player,” Powers said. “Our team is one of where we find the hot hand and we feed it.”
Teammate Zion McRae then hit a 3-pointer in the right corner with 2:27 to play to tie the game. The sophomore finished the game with five 3s.
But with 1:38 to play Providence senior Ella Ortman (13 points) knocked down a 15-foot jumper from the left wing to give the Stallions (22-5) a 57-55 lead, and they never trailed again.
A 3-pointer by freshman Kasey Davey extended the lead to five, 60-55, with 1:13 to play.
Ten seconds later Ortman made two free throws for a 62-55 lead with just under a minute remaining.
McRae made P.K. Yonge’s last field goal with 44 seconds remaining to make it a 5-point game again, 62-57, but the Blue Wave ran out of gas.
P.K. Yonge had to rally from a double-digit deficit in three of the four quarters.
After trailing by 10 in the first quarter, 22-12, the Blue Wave began to chip away in the second quarter.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by McRae gave P.K. Yonge its first lead, 29-28, since early in the opening quarter when McRae also hit two 3s to give the Blue Wave an early 6-5 lead.
McRae scored 14 of her 25 points in the opening half, as the Blue Wave headed to the locker room down just one, 32-31.
She also made two free throws just 15 seconds into the second half as P.K. Yonge held a brief 33-32 lead in the third quarter.
But then P.K. Yonge went cold from the floor and they didn’t make their first field goal until 1:12 remained in the period.
By then, the Stallions had gone on an 11-0 run and they built their largest lead, 48-35, on a basket by senior Abby Kanady (team-high 15 points).
Once again, the Blue Wave rallied.
A 6-0 run spanning the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter got the Blue Wave within seven at 48-41.
Then, three minutes into the quarter, an and-one by Young made it a 5-point game.
Providence got it back to nine before P.K. Yonge’s late run to even the score.
“In my years of coaching I’ve never had these hardships, but the kids who fought through the hardships didn’t make excuses, didn’t point the fingers, didn’t blame anyone and kept our circle close, and that means more than anything because that allowed me to coach them. When you can coach kids you can get more out of them. I’m really proud of them.”