NORTH ANDOVER — Nikki Karalis missed the easy shots but knocked down the difficult ones against Gloucester in the Division 2 North first round yesterday.
The North Andover senior swished two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Her second trifecta gave her team the lead for good with 2 minutes, 53 seconds left in the game as the No. 6 seeded Scarlet Knights prevailed, 50-48.
Karalis' go-ahead 3-pointer came 31 seconds after she made a nice steal, sped down the court but then missed a layup that would have put her team ahead by four points.
"I was going so fast ... and then it just clanked," she joked about her missed breakaway.
"Honestly, I just shot (the 3s) and was thinking to myself, 'This is going to go in,' " she added. "With the layups I was just rushing more. With the 3s, I was like, 'We need these.' "
Karalis' second 3 gave North Andover a 47-44 lead. The Scarlet Knights increased their lead to 49-44 on a pair of free throws by Amanda Foote with 1:28 remaining.
But Gloucester cut its deficit to 49-48 with 31.7 seconds left and then put a strong full court pressure.
Katie Moroney was then fouled when the Scarlet Knights finally were able to get the ball past midcourt with 15.5 seconds left. She missed her first free throw attempt.
"I was freaking out at the foul line," said Moroney. "I was also just thinking in my head, 'Relax. You've taken a million free throws. You take 10 minimum every practice.' I think missing the first one honestly helped me because I was like, 'OK, I can do this. I got the miss out of me and now I'm going to make this one.' "
Moroney did make her second three throw, putting North Andover ahead 50-48.
The Knights then put some strong pressure on Gloucester, not letting ballhandler Olivia Lufkin drive in like she had been.