MORAVIA — Moravia converted from the free-throw line in the clutch.
Four different players provided points from the charity stripe to give the Blue Devils the lead and some much-needed breathing room in the final three minutes, as the Moravia girls basketball team topped Whitney Point 36-33 at Moravia High School Monday.
"Those were huge. They were the difference," Blue Devils coach John Crossgrove said. "If we don't make those, we don't win. A couple more would've been more relaxing though."
Moravia's Grace Wasileski had a team-high 15 points — including two on free throws to give the Blue Devils a two-point lead with three minutes left — and added six rebounds and three steals.
Maddy Kelly added seven points and seven boards. Two of her points came with about two minutes remaining to restore the Moravia lead.
Sierra Lyon chipped in two points, four assists and a team-high 10 rebounds, while Gabby Kehoe finished with five points and six boards.
"All four of our veteran girls were great. They understand the situation," Crossgrove said. "Grace, Sierra, Maddy and Gabby understand what was needed. Gabby was great inside being physical and rebounding. ... They determine what needed to be done and our veterans did it. They get it done. It was a struggle, but they got it done."
Both offenses were slow to get started, with the score being tied 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. The IAC North Large School-leading Eagles took the lead by scoring the final seven points of the first half and held a 17-12 advantage at the break.
For Crossgrove, he figured Whitney Point would try to slow the pace of the game.
"We had a little bit of an idea of what they're about," said Crossgrove, whose Blue Devils are at the top of the IAC North Small School Division. "They have girls that like to go fast, but I think (Whitney Point's coach) didn't want us to go fast. It's not a bad move. Their zone was really good and it was tough to get good looks. It's a little bit different than what we've seen. That slowed us down."
Moravia battled back throughout the third quarter, but Whitney Point managed to stay ahead and led 26-24 heading into the final frame.
The Blue Devils regained the lead with three minutes to play on a pair of free throws from Wasileski, and after the Eagles retook the lead with a three-pointer, Kelly put Moravia back in front with two more free throws. Lyon and Kehoe each went 1-for-2 from the line in the closing minutes, and the Blue Devils were able to hang on for the victory.
Moravia (13-2) has three games remaining in the regular season, including a key IAC Small North School matchup against Groton on Wednesday.
"If we win on Wednesday, we clinch the IAC," Crossgrove said. "We've got a two game lead with two games left."