EBENSBURG — Talk about a trifecta.
The shot Megan Dumm made on Monday night was not just the biggest shot of the game. It was also the biggest shot of her life, and most likely the biggest shot in the history of Penns Manor girls’ basketball.
Dumm, a 5-foot-5 sophomore guard, drilled a 3-pointer with five seconds left to play, lifting the Comets to a exhilarating 36-34 victory over Bishop McCort in a District 6 Class 2A semifinal game at Central Cambria High School.
The win sends No. 2 Penns Manor into the district title game for the fourth time in school history. The Comets have a date on Thursday with fourth-seeded Bishop Guilfoyle, at Mount Aloysius College. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.
Bishop Guilfoyle beat Bellwood Antis, 67-54, on Monday in the other semifinal.
“I just felt confident and I shot it,” said Dumm, whose basket gave her a team-high 14 points. “Honestly, I was just thinking, ‘We need to get a shot.’”
The sixth-seeded Crushers had taken a 34-33 lead with 41 seconds left to play on a fast-break layup by Bailey Shriver. The Comets had several chances to regain the lead on the ensuing possession, but the ball ultimately went out of bounds off a McCort player with 13.5 seconds left, setting up a last chance.
Penns Manor coach Jason Miloser called a timeout and drew up a play where either Dumm or point guard Lauren Bagley would take the shot. After several passes, most of the Bishop McCort defense collapsed into the key, and Dumm flashed open to the left side of the arc.
She took a pass from her sister, Lauren, and without hesitation swished a 21-footer to send the Penns Manor faithful into a frenzy.
Bishop McCort had one last gasp, but Mikayla Martin’s long shot at the buzzer was off the mark.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Miloser said. “Bishop McCort is a great basketball team and it was a great high school basketball game. I’m very proud of our girls. You saw us keep our composure there, and you can’t say enough about Megan Dumm stepping up and hitting the big shot.”
It certainly was a big shot. For as much success as Penns Manor has had over the years, the Comets have never played for a district title.
“We’re excited,” Miloser said. “It’s a great opportunity for us. We know Double-A, District 6 is one of the toughest classes in the state. So, it’s definitely an honor to pull out this win tonight.”
If Thursday’s game with Bishop Guilfoyle — which has played in the district championship game an astounding 34 times — is anything like Monday’s semifinal, the Comets know they will be in for a slugfest.
Penns Manor led by 10 points entering the second quarter, but the Crushers cut the deficit in half in the second quarter. They then made it a three-point game going into the fourth quarter, but that’s when the game slowed down even more, to a crawling pace, and the Crushers outscored Penns Manor 6-5 over the final eight minutes.
“It was exactly what we thought it was going to be like,” said Bishop McCort coach John Hahn. “I thought it was going to be a little more high-scoring than (it was), but they are a physical team.”
After three scoreless minutes, Bishop McCort cut Penns Manor’s lead to one point, at 31-30, on two free throws from Isabella Hunt, with about five minutes to play. But the Comets answered quickly on Bagley’s layup to put the lead back to three.
“We just couldn’t keep the lead,” said Hahn. “I just wanted the lead just one minute with the ball in (our) hands and we could never get there.”
After another two minutes without either team scoring a point, Hunt — who finished with a game-high 16 points — hit a layup to make it 33-32. The Comets tried to make the lead three points again, but they couldn’t hit a shot down the stretch, and the Crushers took the lead for only the second time when Mikayla Martin took a rebound and found Shriver racing ahead downcourt for an easy two.
Thirty-five seconds of white-knuckle basketball later, Dumm took a pass and made a shot that nobody in the Penns Manor community will forget for a long, long time. It couldn’t have come at a better time or a better situation for the Comets.
“We wanted to take an open shot and Megan Dumm is such a great shooter and she’s such a clutch shooter, as you saw there,” Miloser said. “It just worked out and she knocked it down.”
It was a crushing defeat for Bishop McCort, which beat Bishop Guilfoyle on Feb. 10 in its regular-season finale after two previous losses to the Marauders. The Crushers will now have to face No. 1 seed and defending state champion Bellwood Antis on Thursday in the district consolation game.
“We’re better than this, I feel sure,” Hahn said. “(Miloser) will say he’s better than this too. But it was a good high school game. You know, people got their money’s worth.”
They certainly did, thanks to the biggest shot of Megan Dumm’s young career.
“This gives us an awesome opportunity,” Dumm said, “and we couldn’t be any more excited to have it.”