It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
After trailing for most of the game, St. Paul took its largest lead of the night in the final minute and added to it with a perfect effort at the free-throw line to defeat Perkins 40-36 in non-conference action Tuesday at Perkins High School.
The Flyers had only been able to hold a 1-point lead on the hosts twice before a basket from Bella Stoll with 20 seconds left put them up 38-36. The Pirates got called for over and back on the ensuing play, giving the Flyers back possession with 10 seconds left.
St. Paul's Kristen Moore received the inbounds pass and got sent to the line for a one-and-one and a chance to essentially put the game out of Perkins' reach.
Moore sunk both to give the Flyers the four-point win, 40-36.
"We came out relatively flat in a couple of the quarters and that didn't help the situation, but the girls battled back," St. Paul coach Vicky Mahl said. "I wish we would stop putting ourselves in positions where we had to win games like that, but Kristen Moore hit some clutch free throws right there at the end. We had a lineup in there at the end that plays well together — and that's not to say the rest of them don't — but I had five seniors on the floor and that makes a big difference"
The Flyers (2-5) had Moore, Stoll, Emily Chandler, Elise Nickoli and Lydia Ott in for the final plays.
Ott came up big in the fourth quarter, scoring St. Paul's first three buckets, including a three-point play the old-fashioned way to open the fourth quarter and pull the Flyers within one point. She scored nine of St. Paul's 15 fourth quarter points and led all scorers with 17.
"She was having ups and downs today, which isn't usually like her, she's been pretty consistent lately," Mahl said of Ott. "But she came back at the end and did what she needed to do."
The Pirates opened the game on a 6-0 run with a free throw from Angela Baumgardner, a layup from Hallee Smith and a 3-pointer from Ariana Burrows. Perkins held the lead through the entire first quarter to head into the second with a 14-9 lead.
Perkins (2-2) increased its lead to 25-18 at halftime, but the second quarter saw the Flyers gain a pair of ties and one 1-point lead before they fell back again.
"Our whole locker room is struggling with playing with any type of confidence, and I think that just shows all the way around," Perkins coach Ray Neill said. "If we have a problem, we've got a disease and it's called nerves. Until we are able to somehow play with some confidence, we're going to struggle."
After Emily Wagner put away one of two from the charity stripe to start the second quarter, Ott came back with back-to-back baskets to cut St. Paul's deficit to 15-13 with five minutes left in the quarter. Then the Flyers took their first lead of the night off a 3-pointer from Stoll with 4:45 to go in the quarter. Wagner added another free throw to tie things up 16-16, then picked off a St. Paul pass and found Burrows whose basket put the Pirates up 18-16. Ott tied things back up for St. Paul on a basket with 2:15 remaining, but the Pirates closed out the quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 25-18 halftime lead.
While the Pirates held the lead throughout the low-scoring third quarter, St. Paul held Perkins to four points and put away seven to cut the margin to 29-25.
After Ott opened the fourth quarter by pulling the Flyers within one, the teams traded points until St. Paul put away two in a row from Ott and and then Nickoli with 3:52 left to take a 34-33 lead.
Perkins' Kasi Didion gave the Pirates back the lead, 35-34 with 2:21 to go, and Abbey Seeholzer scored one of two from the free throw line with 1:55 left to give the Pirates a 36-34 lead, but it would prove to be Perkins' last point of the game.
"We had a handful of 7-, 8-, 9-point leads, but we just couldn't handle their pressure — their pressure and the pressure that comes with being in a tight ballgame in the end," Neill said. "We had the ball two or three times in the last minute, but we just wanted to take care of it and get a good shot, but when it got down to 30 seconds, we wanted to take the last shot, but we weren't able to do that. We got a long way to go. We've got a lot of work to do. It's the coaching staff's job now to right the ship and find some mental toughness."
Stoll added 13 points to Ott's 17 to lead the Flyers, while the Pirates were led by Burrows and Smith with seven points each.
"You just kind of take this and you move on and say thank you," Mahl said of the win. "I'm just happy for the girls to get the win here. We're just gonna move on and get ready for Plymouth on Thursday. It's a good win for us, it's a good win for the program."
Perkins (2-2) travels to Port Clinton on Friday.