Haley Andres hit a free throw after time had expired, lifting the Franklin Lady Knights (24-1) to a 48-47 win over Villa Maria (22-3) in the District 10 “AAA” girls basketball championship game played Saturday afternoon at Meadville High School.
Andres had been fouled at the fourth-quarter buzzer in an attempt to hit a long three-point shot to avoid overtime. She would have been awarded three shots, if needed, but sank her first attempt to win the game and the title.
Villa Maria had won the last six consecutive D-10 “AA” championships before moving up to class “AAA” this year. In those six previous seasons, the Victors had advanced to the state’s final four each year, won three state championships, and twice earned a runner-up berth.
Franklin trailed 22-8 in the first minute of the second quarter, but tied the score at 35-35 only to see Villa go on a 9-2 run. The Lady Knights trailed 47-40 with 1:26 remaining in the game, but won the contest at the foul line, making 10-of-10 free throw attempts in the final quarter to finish 18-for-21 at the line.
Mara Benvenuti led Franklin with 14 points, while Andres tallied 11 and Lina Starr added 8. Karlee McBride paced Villa Maria with 18 points.
The Lady Knights will start play in the PIAA tournament at 4:30 PM on Saturday, taking on District 6 runner-up Ligonier Valley (16-7) at Slippery Rock University. Villa Maria will meet the third-place team from District 7 (WPIAL), Hopewell (21-4), at the same starting time at North Allegheny High School in Wexford.