CHEEKTOWAGA – The Springville-Griffith Institute girls basketball team completed one of their greatest comeback wins in recent years. The team trailed at the end of each of the first three quarters and then allowed JFK High School to build its biggest lead midway through the fourth before the team went on an unprecedented 15-0 run in the game’s final three minutes to steal the win 40-33 Dec. 4 in Cheektowaga.
Trailing by eight points at 33-25 with less than a half-quarter to go, the impressive rally began with a Sydney Rosati three that cut the Bears’ lead to five. MacKenzie Engel sank a basket to make it a one-possession game at 33-30 and the Bears began to feel the pressure.
In trying to thwart Springville’s momentum, the Bears turned up their defensive play but in the process committed a pair of fouls. That’s when Springville took advantage and went a perfect 5-for-5 to turn a three-point deficit into a two-point advantage.
Ivette Lewandowski was fouled in a three attempt, and sank all three of her free throws to tie the game at 33 apiece. Grace Zabawa then sank both of her charity strip throws to put the Griffs in the lead to stay at 35-33 with under two minutes to play.
Despite the emotional lift and momentum swing there were still almost two minutes left in the game and that’s when Coach Bob Gainey settled his team with a timeout and re-focused his squad with a final strategy.
Springville was able to continue its stealth defense without fouling JFK and in the game’s final 30 seconds Rosati hit another three to all but seal the win at 38-33. Lewandowski capped the scoring with a layup for the 40-33 final with just 10 seconds to go.
Gainey had said prior to the season he was relying heavily on his two returning starters and they delivered in spades. Both Rosati and Lewandowski finished the game with a dozen points apiece to co-lead the team in scoring.
Grace Zabawa added eight points, while Engel finished with four. Kelsey Zabawa and Ryan Stedman scored a pair of points each to round out the scoring.
Springville trailed after the first quarter 4-2, after the second quarter 13-11 and after the third 27-21. The Griffs had just two leads in the game prior to their comeback rally in the fourth. They held a very brief 7-6 lead in the second and started the third quarter with an 8-2 run that put them up four points at 19-15. The Bears responded by ending the third quarter with a 12-2 run and a six-point lead heading into the fourth.
Springville scored nearly half of its 40 total points in the fourth with 19 and 15 coming in the final three minutes.
Prior to facing JFK, Springville hosted Mount Mercy Academy Dec. 2 and dropped the contest 47-24 in their season-opening game. It may have been a loss on the court, but the game was a big win for the community as the team collected nearly $600 along with several bins of donated toys for the Toys for Tots Foundation.