SAEGERTOWN — For four straight years, the championship game of the Elks Holiday Tournament has been between two teams — Franklin and Saegertown. And for three straight years, the Knights have prevailed.

This year, however, it was the Panthers carrying the big trophy after the game.

With an intense wire-to-wire performance, a clutch free throw with six seconds left, and shining fourth-quarter effort by one of the Cats’ freshmen, Saegertown downed Franklin 48-44 in the Elks final, Wednesday at Saegertown High School.

“That was a great win,” said Saegertown head coach Steve Scott, whose team improved to 10-1 with the victory. “The girls really came out after it, played really good defense, hit the open shots when they were there. And we took care of the ball.

“That was the best the girls have player for four quarters. They didn’t let down.”

Through three frames, the teams ran neck-and-neck. Franklin’s largest lead was at 23-17 late in the second quarter. And Saegertown took a 32-31 lead with 30 seconds left in the third.

However, heading into the final quarter the Panthers trailed by two at 34-32. That’s when Cats freshman Nicole Harmon came alive. She scored nine of the Panthers’ 13 points in the final six-and-a-half minutes. Among those were a 3-pointer with 3:25 left that tied the game at 42-42, and a put-back with 1:57 left that gave the Cats a 45-42 lead and put Franklin’s championship streak in serious jeopardy.

“(Harmon) came up big,” said coach Scott. “She never quit. She keeps coming all the time. She makes some mistakes, but she always comes back — gets the ball back, tries to tip it in. She always tries to do something positive.”

Harmon herself, who tied a career-high with 13 points in the game, wasn’t exactly sure what got into her in the fourth quarter.

“I really don’t know,” she said . “It was on ... I don’t know.

“(Franklin) had a really good defense,” she added. “We had to pass the ball and work as a team. We did really well.”

The Knights made it a three-point game with about 21 seconds remaining and were looking to put the Panthers on the foul line during the inbound. However, the Panthers, with some great passing down the court, were able to drain off 15 valuable seconds from the clock before Franklin could apply the foul.

“We weren’t actually expecting that,” said Panthers senior Natasha Beatty. “But it worked out well.”

Beatty was fouled a went to the line with 6.7 seconds remaining. She needed to make one of her two shots to make it a two-possession game. Otherwise, Franklin, with a number of clutch 3-point shooters on the court, was still in it.

Beatty rimmed the first shot. Franklin called a time out.

“Get up,” answered Beatty, when asked what her coach told her during the time-out. “(He said), ‘Not to put any pressure on you, but if you make this you win the game.”

She made it. The Panthers won.

“We played a lot better this game than any other we’ve played for four quarters,” said Panthers senior Alyssa Woods. “We’re usually up and down a lot, and this time we played the whole game.

“It’s nice to beat Franklin. They’re a good team to beat.”

Woods was named the Outstanding Player of the Tournament. Against the Knights she scored nine points and had four key steals. From the point, Woods led a terrific defensive effort which saw the Knights turn over the ball nine times in the second half.

“Turnovers hurt us more than anything,” said Franklin coach Todd Wetjen. “There were two times where we had a chance to break the game open, but a couple turnovers here and there really cost us.”

Kelsey Reisinger — an all-tournament team nominee — played a tough game on both sides of the ball. She scored 10 points and led the Panthers with nine rebounds. Beatty followed with nine points. Lindsey Hunter had six points and — along with Nicole Rigby coming off the bench — did a valiant job at the post where Franklin lined up three girls at 5-foot-11

“Considering the size of (Franklin), we went up and rebounded the ball pretty well,” said Scott. “They all did their jobs tonight. It was a team effort.”

For Franklin (5-5), Katie Weaver and Brittany Foust had 10 points each. Foust led the Knights with three treys. Nicole Cherry added eight points.

Cherry and Franklin forward Angela Sterner also made the all-tournament team, joining North East point guard Katie Frontino and Titusville forward Sammie Evans.

North East defeated Titusville 49-36 in the consolation game, yesterday.

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