continued Lily Whalen then tied the game for the Lions at the 4:30 mark of the fourth quarter with a pair of free throws. The Lions took the lead back when Clare Harwood grabbed an offensive rebound and found an open Kearsten Ashline for a 30-28 lead. Jessica Bain scored a jumper off a screen-roll play to then tie the game at 30-30 with 2:30 left.
Morgan Hinckley gave the Orange the lead back with a mid-range hook shot at the 1:50 mark at 32-30. Hinckley extended the lead, hitting a pair of free throws at the 1:10 mark for a 34-30 lead. Bain then added two more from the stripe to extend to a 36-30 lead.
Shannon Farrell connected two more free throws on with 6.2 seconds remaining, and the Orange were able to celebrate a successful title defense.
Morgan Hinckley added six points in the game.
“I think they just want to see the hair on my head turn another shade of grey,” Reynolds said of the free throws. “They shot 5-for-12 in the first half, and I guess they must need the pressure, because they finished the game only missing one. It was the same with our game against Westport, we made the free throws and had to if we wanted to win.”
For the Lions, Shonna Brooks finished with 15 points, with only two coming after halftime. Lily Whalen added nine points. Kearsten Ashline added four in the loss.
The Lions held a 16-7 lead after the first quarter and a 20-10 lead at halftime. The Orange had cut the lead to 26-22 after three.
The Lions were plagued with foul trouble in the first half, collecting 10 team fouls. Kearsten Ashline was forced out of the game midway through the first quarter, after picking up her second foul early. Clare Harwood picked up her third personal foul just before the quarter ended.
In the opening quarter, Brooks scored nine points as the Elizabethtown-Lewis Lady Lions used a 9-2 run to end the first eight minutes to give them a 16-7 lead.
The Orange will next play Saturday, March 10, at the Plattsburgh State Fieldhouse in the regional finals against the winner between Section X and II, with a trip to the state final four on the line. Last season, the Orange lost in the regional finals to Chateauguay, who is coached by Reynolds brother, Tim. The Bulldogs were ousted in the Section X finals.