NORTH CLARENDON — Many a high school basketball game has been changed by the 3-point field goal since the arc was painted on gym floors some 33 years ago. Otter Valley’s Alia Edmunds nailed four 3-pointers in her team’s 57-51 victory over Mill River in Monday’s girls basketball game, two consecutively that helped change the complexion of the game in a blink.
Mill River had fought its way back from a 19-6 deficit to take a 25-24 lead. This is where Edmunds stepped in.
Her two quick treys put the Otters into a 30-25 lead and they led the rest of the way.
“I have more confidence when my team is backing and supporting me like they were tonight,” Edumnds said.
It appeared that the Otters might bury the Minutemen early. They forged a 17-4 lead by the end of the first quarter. OV’s Mallory Lufkin canned an outside shot to make it 19-6 and they seemed on the verge of pulling away to an easy win.
The Minutemen had other ideas. Malori Carlson scored five quick points and Jessica Roberts struck from the outside for Mill River and suddenly it was 19-13.
Things were not going well for the Otters. Their classy ball handler and floor leader Alice Keith was saddled with her third personal foul with 3:09 left in the half. Kyla Sheehe made two free throws and Molly Bruso another for the Minutemen who found themselves in a 22-22 tie.
Livia Bernhardt powered inside to put the Otters back in front but then Kyla Sheehe gave the Minutemen the lead with a 3-ball.
Edmunds came to the rescue with her own 3-point marksmanship.
Mill River coach Brad Rideout saw his team fall to 1-6 but he loved the Minutemen’s response upon finding themselves in that 19-6 hole.
“They could have very easily just stopped playing but this is a resilient group,” Rideout said. “I have been doing this for 35 years but I am excited to come to the gym with them because I know what I am going to get out of them.
“Our execution isn’t where it should be but I can’t fault the effort.”
Edmunds said sometimes the Otters get a little to comfortable with a big lead.
“We have to remind ourselves to play defense because defense is going to win us games,” the senior said.
“We had to take a breath and get our composure,” Otter Valley coach Kelly Trayah said about recovering from losing that big lead.
“We tried to know where Molly (Bruso) was at all times.”
Bruso still managed 11 points to lead the Minutemen.
Livia Bernhardt was a tough matchup inside for the Minutemen. She drew a number of fouls and led the Otters with 18 points.
Edmunds followed with 12 points on her four 3s and Leah Pinkowski, a potent post tandem with Bernhardt, added 10 points. Keefe tossed in nine despite sitting with foul trouble and Lufkin had seven.
Following Bruso in scoring for the Minutemen were Sheehe, Hannah Schoengarth (three 3s) and Carslon with nine apiece. Jessica Roberts had eight points.
“We lost No. 25 (Edmunds) a couple of times. That’s part of our players learning a new system,” Rideout said.
The victory brings OV’s record to 3-4 and they get ready for a tough game with Fair Haven on Saturday.
The Otters will go to Fair Haven as a team on Tuesday night to watch the battle between the Slaters and Windsor.
The Otters got a spark off the bench from Lufkin who hit some shots, forced turnovers with her hell-bent-for-leather defense and had several pretty assists.
The Otters were coming off a 61-48 loss to Windsor, a team on everyone’s list of Division III state title contenders.
“We lost to them by 50 last year. Playing them that tough gave us a lot of confidence coming into this game,” Edmunds said.
Mill River hosts Woodstock on Wednesday.