PIAA Class 2A Girls Basketball: Megan Donahoe’s buzzer beater sends Sacred Heart to quarterfinals

HAMBURG – Megan Donahoe knew, as soon as the first free throw from Hannah Ruohoniemi clanged off the back iron with 6.8 seconds left Tuesday night, what she was going to do.

From her vantage point in the back court, having just grabbed the rebound, MJ Donohue knew as soon as the shot left her freshman teammate’s hands that it was right on the money.

In a game of so many missed opportunities, the freshman Donahoe took hers with aplomb, splashing home a 3-pointer from the wing in front of an ecstatic Sacred Heart bench to send the Lions to a 42-40 win over Line Mountain in the second round of the PIAA Class 2A tournament at Hamburg Area High School.

“Maya (Walker) did a great job getting the ball to me,” Donahoe said. “I was just trying to take my time and take my shot, and it went our way.”

Donahoe’s killer instinct capped a back-and-forth game that featured 39 combined turnovers. The Lions (15-9) led by three, then trailed by three in the final stages of the fourth quarter, thanks to four missed free throws, two of them missed front-ends of 1-and-1. But Line Mountain (14-12) responded in kind by missing three front-ends, including by Ruohoniemi off the back of the rim with LM up by 40-39 and a chance to all but ice it.

After seven straight empty trips up the court, Walker got the ball, maybe shuffled her feet in establishing a pivot and fed Donahoe. She took one dribble, planted her feet and let fly, hitting nothing but net.

“I knew right when it went off her fingers it was going in,” Donohue said. “That’s one of her strengths – she always makes her 3s, no matter what. She’s always behind the line. I knew she would always make her 3s.”

It was a fitting ending, since 3-point shooting roused the Lions from the doldrums early. They trailed 9-2 in the first and were 2-for-17 from the field to start out. They didn’t take their first lead until Donahoe banked home a runner with 3:06 left in the third.

But thanks to a defense that led to 22 turnovers, Line Mountain couldn’t build a lead. So when Donohue, then Donahoe, then Donohue from Donahoe (keeping up?) hit consecutive triples, the game was tied at 15. Any panic of climbing out of a deep hole was averted by half.

“I knew that I could keep my tempo and keep the team under no pressure, from the crowd and from the players on the court,” Donohue said. “I knew if I set the mood for the team, everyone else would feel it.”

It took some adjustment from the Lions. In Ruohoniemi, the Eagles had a big who could negate the threat of Keara McCaffrey in the paint. McCaffrey scored 11 points to go with 13 rebounds, including a banked-in shot with 4:15 left to put SH up 37-34.

McCaffrey ended up playing the decoy most of the fourth. Donahoe had eight points and five assists. Donohue hit four 3-pointers for 16 points, 11 in the first half.

Line Mountain made its run with Liz Spieles hitting two at the line, then getting a rebound and driving to score for two to make it 38-37. Ruohoniemi made it 40-38 with two minutes to play off a feed from Sierra Klinger.

Ruohoniemi and Brooke Barwick scored nine points each. Spieles finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and four steals.

Donohue hit two free throws to get the Lions within a point with 1:30 left, but both teams traded empty possessions until Donahoe’s magical shot.

“It was incredible,” she said. “It felt amazing.”

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