By Christopher Smith
DERRY — Pinkerton senior AJ Guidi's shot was off the mark for much of the first 30 minutes and 48 seconds of yesterday's Class L first-round game against Salem.
Her offensive woes included missing her first five 3-point attempts.
Still, Guidi wasn't timid about tossing up another 3-pointer with her team trailing by nine points with 1:12 remaining.
Her shot sailed in and Pinkerton had new life.
"I was off the whole game and just hitting that shot was kind of a big relief," she said. "After that happened, everything else just started falling for us."
Guidi, who shot 29 percent for the game, caught fire in the final 1:12 — as did the rest of her teammates.
Guidi scored eight points during that time as she led Pinkerton on a 13-0 run to close out the game.
No. 2 Pinkerton prevailed 43-39 over the Blue Devils, who went 0 for 6 from the free throw line in the final 1:06. Katherine Harris called the game one the of the most exciting in which she has ever played.
"Definitely, that was a crazy comeback," she said.
Guidi scored a game-high 18 points thanks to her nine points in the fourth quarter.
"We kept our cool," said Guidi. "We kept our heads and we played defense at the end. I was getting a little frustrated, but I knew that if I couldn't make the shots, someone else could."
After Guidi's 3-pointer, Salem missed a pair of free throws and the ball returned to the Astros. Pinkerton found 5-foot-5 junior Danielle Kimball wide open in the corner. She had not scored all game, but she drilled a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 39-36.
"So much was going through my mind," she said about taking it. "I knew we needed it. I air-balled shortly before that and I was so mad at myself for that. At that point, we knew we needed 3s."
More missed free throws by Salem gave Pinkerton the ball back and Allie Ucich drew a foul with :40 left and made a pair to cut the Astros' deficit to 39-38.
"Honestly, I thought we were going to be done," Ucich said. "I started to see everyone's heads go down. When we hit those two 3s, that was key. We were just like, 'All right. We can do this.' And we just dug in and hit our foul shots."
Pinkerton then used some strong defense to take its first lead of the game.
Ucich tipped a pass being inbounded by Salem down near the Salem basket. Harris then grabbed the tip. She fired a pass near halfcourt to Laura Pierce who made a strong pass to Guidi who was streaking in toward the basket.
Guidi caught the pass and scored while being fouled. She made her free throws to give Pinkerton the lead, 40-39 with 23 seconds left.
Salem coach Liz Briggs she said she proud of the way her girls played.
"Finally, we could put some offense together," she said. "Certainly in the first half and third quarter. We've been trying to be offensive all year long. We had some people step up today."
She did mention the missed free throws as being one of the downfalls.
"I could have probably told you about two weeks ago that might be our demise," said Briggs. "We haven't been strong in that regard. At least, we know next year we'll be working real hard on our free throws."
Pinkerton 43, Salem 39
Class L First Round
Salem (39): Righini 2-0-5. Raye 1-1-3, Galvin 3-4-12, Connors 2-0-5, Bujnowski 5-1-11, White 1-1-3. Totals: 14-7-39
Pinkerton (43): Guidi 6-5-18, Harris 0-1-1, Pierce 5-2-14, Goodwin 1-1-3, Ucich 1-2-4, Kimball 1-0-3. Totals 14-11- 43
3-pointers: P — Guidi, Kimball, Pierce 2; S — Righini, Galvin 2, Connors
Salem (7-12):12âÇ9âÇâÇ9âÇâÇ9 — 39
Pinkerton (18-1 ):âÇ7âÇ9âÇ10âÇ17 — 43