Danielle Kleet knew Whitman needed to earn another victory and make a statement against the defending Suffolk small schools champion.
“We’re playing quick,” said Kleet, who scored 24 points for Whitman in a 51-46 overtime victory over Hauppauge in the Lady Wildcat Invitational Basketball Classic final at Whitman on Friday night. “We’re getting rebounds, pushing it up and breaking their press.”
Up one with 34.2 seconds remaining, Kleet drew a foul on a three-pointer at the top of the key and sank two of the ensuing three free throws, extending the Whitman advantage to 49-46.
“Kleet was amazing,” Whitman coach Dan Trebour said. “I just loved the way she bounced back and took over. She has a lot of responsibility defending a good player and handling the ball. She needs to score and I don’t give her much rest. We demand a lot out of her.”
The Wildcats forced a missed three on the other end, and Meghan Soulias made a free throw with 7.7 seconds to go to widen the lead to four and essentially seal the win. Whitman improved to 3-0, and Hauppauge moved to 1-1.
Soulias, who said it was only her second game back after tearing her ACL playing lacrosse in April, was critical in the extra period with five of Whitman’s 11 points. She gave the Wildcats the lead for good at 47-45 with a bank shot near the free throw line with 1:36 left.
“Coming off the knee injury, it’s been a little hard,” Soulias, who finished with six points, said. “I guess I was more confident at the end and we pulled it together. Everyone worked well together.”
“Meghan’s been the rock of the program over the last few years so we were a little depleted and we knew the only way we could beat them was playing uptempo and high intensity,” Trebour said. “And playing back-to-back games with that style is tough and I was really proud of the girls.”
Lauren Romito completed a three-point play with 3:47 remaining in regulation to put Hauppauge ahead 40-37. Desiree Kleberg’s three-pointer from the left corner 11 seconds later knotted the score and ultimately forced overtime.
A jumper by Kleet gave Whitman an 11-10 lead in the first minute of the second quarter, but Hauppauge responded with a 7-0 run to go ahead 17-11. Taylor Ramputi followed up Romito’s left-handed jump-hook at the 1:49 mark of the first half to cap the spurt.
Hauppauge led 19-15 at the half and the Wildcats overcame a 27-18 deficit in the third with an 11-2 run that Kleet finished off with a layup at the 1:08 mark. The Eagles then came up with two unanswered baskets to enter the fourth with a 33-29 lead.