BEACON FALLS — Nobody’s sure how it went in, but it did.
Heather Framski grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and hit a fadeaway, turnaround, three-footer that slowly rolled around the rim and finally fell through with 3 seconds left to give No. 10 Woodland a 64-63 win over No. 23 Waterford Tuesday in the Class M state tournament first round.
“It was lucky,” said Framski, who scored a career-high and school-record 37 points along with 11 rebounds and five assists. “It was just a last attempt. I’m not gonna lie and say I practice that shot in my backyard. But we had 3 seconds, I had to get a shot up.”
The shot came on what was essentially Woodland’s fifth try to take the lead on its final possession after the Lancers took the lead on a second-chance jumper by Adily Martucci (team-high 22 points) with 16 seconds to play.
Attempt No. 1: The Hawks sped down the floor and had the ball knocked out of bounds underneath the basket with 12.2 seconds left.
Attempt No. 2: Woodland coach Gail Cheney called a timeout to set up an inbounds play, but Lindsay Feducia, who had given the Hawks a one-point lead last possession with a runner, couldn’t find anywhere to fit the ball and she called another timeout.
“[Framski] was getting double-teamed and our other players were just standing around waiting for her,” Feducia said.
Attempt No. 3: Cheney drew up another play intended to free Framski with a double screen, but Waterford closed her off, allowing Shannon Meany to break loose and get off a shot that fell off the rim. Feducia grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled on the put-back attempt.
“They were double teaming [Framski] so there was nothing we could really do,” Cheney said. “I thought Shannon had it.”
Attempt No. 4: Feducia, a sound free-throw shooter, went to the line with 7.1 seconds to go, and missed the first shot short. Her second shot was too long, but the ball caromed high into the lane.
Attempt No. 5: Framski soared for the offensive board in heavy traffic. With her back to the basket, she made a half-turn while her momentum carried her away from the basket and hoisted the ball to the rim. It glided along the right side of the rim before finally rolling in.
“I have no idea [how that went in],” Cheney said. “I have no idea. You look to your best players on the team to always come through for you at the end. Lindsay joked and said, ‘Hey, Heather, that was my assist.’”
Waterford had already burned through its allotment of timeouts and couldn’t get a full-court heave off in time before the Woodland student section rushed the floor.
Neither team had more than a two-point lead in the fourth quarter, but the Lancers were just 2-of-10 from the free throw line in the final period while Framski scored 12 points in the frame.
Framski also scored 17 points in the first quarter to help Woodland to a 23-15 lead after the period. She and Andrea Piccolo (eight total points) were the only Hawks to score in the first.
Waterford stormed back and outscored Woodland, 23-15, in the second to take a 38-34 lead at halftime.
The Lancers took their biggest lead at 49-42 late in the third quarter, but crucial jump shots by Kelsey Deegan (four points) and drives by Feducia (13 points, 11 assists) helped the Hawks close the quarter on an 8-2 run and close the deficit to 51-50 heading into the fourth.
Cheney credited Deegan’s two jumpers from the left wing for keeping Woodland in the game.
“That was huge,” Cheney said. “I said to Kelsey at halftime, ‘You need to score.’ In practice, Kelsey is always producing. We need to win with five people. We can’t win with just two.”
Woodland was consistently beaten on the boards, giving Waterford numerous second-chance points. But Framski was too much on the offensive end and a mismatch for a Lancers team who had never before seen her.
“I had a feeling when we walked in, they weren’t very large size-wise and I knew that they couldn’t stop her,” Cheney said.
“I just came out excited,” Framski said. “I didn’t want this to be my last game. I had to do everything to make sure this wasn’t my last game.”
It wasn’t her last game and now Woodland (17-6), fresh off its first state tournament win since 2005 and completing an undefeated home season (10-0), will visit No. 7 Sacred Heart (16-6) Friday night at 7 p.m.
The Hearts were 60-35 winners over No. 26 Classical Magnet in Tuesday’s first round. In the teams’ previous meeting this season, Woodland took a 71-57 win on Jan. 4 in Beacon Falls.
“We played Sacred Heart in the beginning of the year and they’ve come a long way, and so have we,” Cheney said. “I think it’s going to be a very good game. As long as these kids come out and play with as much heart as they have, I think we’ll be OK.”
“We beat them but that was here and it was different,” Feducia said. “It wasn’t lose-and-you’re-done. There’s going to be different pressure. We want it and we’re going to go in there a lot more mentally tough than any game.”