The two teams traded field goals to open the second half before AuSable Valley went to work. Taylor Saltus — who ended up having to sit for a long stretch in the frame after picking up her fourth foul — drained a corner three. Haley Taylor went along the baseline for a layup, and Strong connected from downtown for a short-lived lead.
Taylor scored inside again to regain the lead before a putback from Kharysma Bryant and a layup from Skyler Gausney-Jones gave the Kings a 36-33 advantage.
Logan Snow hit her lone field goal of the game —a 3-pointer — and after Gausney-Jones made a free throw, Strong connected on her fourth triple of the game for a 39-37 lead with 1:25 left in the third.
“We were moving the ball well,” Strong said. “The defense wasn’t adjusting to us. Quick ball movement; we were hitting all of our shots and it was working for us.”
But it would be a while before the Patriots found the scoreboard again. Bishop Kearney scored 11 unanswered points until Saltus hit a floater — the only points for AuSable Valley in the fourth — with 3:40 left in the game.
“I had a feeling if we could keep it up we’d be in good shape, but I think we exerted a ton of energy in that third quarter to get ourselves back in the game,” AuSable Valley coach Roger Long said. “It was a high of getting back into the game and a low of realizing how much we exerted to get there.”
Taylor finished with eight points and seven rebounds for the Patriots, who are ranked sixth in the state. The only other senior on the roster, Sierra Snow, added six points and six rebounds. Both of them had three steals.
Gausney-Jones led Bishop Kearney, ranked fourth in the state, with a game-high 23 points, and Bryant added 13 points and seven rebounds. Edoka scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half and added a game-high 13 rebounds. The Kings shot 43 percent from the field, while AuSable Valley hit on 33 percent.