Bowser’s Late Shot Lifts Keystone into District 9 Class 2A Girls’ Title Game

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (D9Sports) – Natalie Bowser’s layup with 7.4 seconds to play lifted Keystone into the District 9 Class 2A girls’ championship game with a 43-41 win over Ridgway.

(Photo of Natalie Bowser of Keystone)

“At first, I was hesitant, because you are the freshman on the court so you are always down on yourself,” Bowser, who was named the Hager Paving Player of the Game, said. “But I was like ok, you’ve got this. Just do one shot, one shot. And then we are up, we are up. Now we just had to play defense. And defense is our strong suit. So I was really blessed. I got the ball, and I got it in. We only had six seconds left. I knew that’s it, it’s game.”

Watch Bowser’s postgame interview.

Keystone head coach Josh Almes said it was perhaps destiny that Bowser made the last shot.

Reslisten to the game:

“This morning, she asked to come down (to my classroom) during my free time to watch film,” Almes said. “We talked about her having her handz and her body in the right position to make plays. I’m really glad we did that this morning because she looked ready on the last play. She is a great, hard-working kid who is constantly trying to improve.”

Almes said Bowser shot wouldn’t have been possible without a great pass from Jozee Weaver.

Weaver had taken a pass from Danae Hurrelbrink in the right corner and had started to make a move down the baseline towards the hoop when she saw Bowser wide open and fed her the basketball.

“I think Jozee saw that before anyone else in the gym,” Almes said. “I am not sure how she even got that pass through all those arms. There is no way to practice that. You just have to go out and make something happen.”

After Bowser’s basket, Ridgway got a timeout, and officials put six seconds on the clock after the clock didn’t quite stop in time.

Maddie Dunlap then stole Payton Delhunty’s inbounds pass and was fouled with 2.1 seconds to play.,

Dunlap missed the free throw, but a Christina Fullem desperation pass was intercepted as time ran out.

“This was the goal at the beginning of the season,” Almes said. “We thought we had a shot at the KSAC and a shot to upset North Clarion. In a few ways it felt like we had fallen a little shot. But the girls are driven and they practice hard. We are where we wanted to be. So it is nice to finally be here.”

Ridgway, which had played from behind nearly the entire game, tied the game at 41 on a 3-pointer from the left corner by Julia Peterson with 20 seconds to play.

That triple ended a quick 5-0 spurt by the Lady Elkers who trailed 41-36 following Emily Lauer free throws with 38.7 seconds left.

But Fullem made a strong move to the hoop to get Ridgway within three, 41-38, with 27 seconds to play, and the Lady Elkers stole the inbounds pass creating a tie-up with the possession arrow in their favor.

Peterson then found herself open in the corner out of the inbounds and hit nothing but net to tie the game at 41.

“It’s basketball, man,” Almes said. “I have a lot of respect for their coach (John Bennardi). I have been coaching against him forever. He had his girls very well disciplined. Nothing was easy, but our girls battled back, played well and ept each other positive.”

After the Peterson 3-pointer, Almes called timeout, and out of the inbound Lauer got the ball across midcourt before finding Hurrelbrink who found Weaver who found Bowser for the win.

“I don’t even remember what I said to the kids,” Almes said. “It feels like we have been in so many games like that and have seen so many tough 3-pointer hit on us.”

Early on against District 9’s top defensive team, Keystone looked like it was going to have an easy time of it taking an 18-7 lead about three minutes into the second quarter.

But Ridgway changed up from a man-to-man defense to a zone, and the zone gave the Lady Panthers trouble allowing the Lady Elkers to get back in the game and get back within seven, 22-15, by halftime and within four, 25-21, midway through the third quarter.

“We like our matchups when they were in man,” Almes said. “We thought we could get Jozee Weaver some looks under the basket. They made some really nice adjustments against that. Then, we had to break open their zone. It took us a while.”

While Keystone struggled against the Ridgway zone, the Lady Panthers played just enough defense to continue to hold a slim lead throughout the fourth quarter and seemed in decent shape when Lauer hit a 3-pointer to make it 35-30.

But Peterson was fouled taking a three of her own and hit two of the free throws to make it 35-32 and the game continued to sway between three and four points until the Keystone got the late five-point lead.

Weaver led Keystone with a game-high 18 points, including 12 in the first half. Lauer added 16 points.

Gabbi Rohr and Lindsey Steis paced Ridgway with 10 points apiece. Fullem and Peterson each added eight.

Keystone will play Redbank Valley in the title game at 6 p.m. Friday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.

Ridgway will meet Clarion in the consolation game at 7 p.m. Friday at DuBois High School


Score by Quarters

Keystone 11 11 6 15 – 43
Ridgway 5 10 10 16 – 41


Emily Lauer 5 5-6 16, Maddie Dunlap 0 0-1 0, Alyssa Dunlap 0 0-0 0, Danae Hurelbrink 2 0-0 5, Jozee Weaver 8 0-0 18, Natalie Bowser 2 0-0 4. Totals 17 5-7 43.


Christina Fullem 3 2-2 8, Gabbi Rohr 2 6-10 10, Lindsey Steis 3 4-4 10, Julie Peterson 2 3-5 8, Payton Delhunty 0 3-4 3, Eve Colbaugh 1 0-0 2. Totals 11 18-25 41.

Three-pointers: Keystone 4 (Weaver 2, Lauer, Hurrelbrink). Ridgway 1 (Peterson).

Copyright © 2021 EYT Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of the contents of this service without the express written consent of EYT Media Group, Inc. is expressly prohibited.

Comments are temporarily closed. A new and improved comments section will be added soon.