Last updated: February 15. 2013 8:26PM - 156 Views

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As their deficit kept mounting, despair never did.

When the situation looked bleakest, their outlook turned brightest.

And in one magical finish, they made the most improbable seem very probable.

The King's College women's basketball team didn't just win an NCAA Division III playoff game Saturday.

It won one for all the coaches telling kids to never quit.

Because when you don't, sometimes endings like Saturday happen.

"It was a huge blur," said Katlin Michaels, who hit the winning shot for King's.

"I don't know what happened," King's coach Brian Donoghue said. "It was one of the craziest things I've ever seen."

You had to see it to believe it.

William Paterson, the No. 8 team in the nation, was pulling away from King's fast, 57-42, midway through the second half of a second-round NCAA Division III tournament game. The Pioneers were still ahead by 12 points with seven minutes on the game clock. And they were up 10, at 63-53, with 2:28 to play.

Usually, that's about the time teams start emptying the bench.

Only King's emptied its tank in an effort to snatch victory from near-certain defeat.

The Lady Monarchs held William Paterson scoreless over the final three minutes.

And during that span, Celia Rader nailed the last of her school-record nine three-point field goals. Molly Dahl and Lindsay Atchison both connected on treys. And when Michaels out of Berwick High School darted down the lane for the game's final bucket with 42 seconds on the clock, King's had an amazingly dramatic 64-63 victory.

"We don't give up very easily," steely-eyed King's guard Samantha Simcox said.

Apparently, the Lady Monarchs don't give up at all.

Even when they had every reason to.

Building confidence

This wasn't a lackluster team out of the Freedom Conference King's had to fight back against. This was a nationally-ranked opponent featuring the April Smith, one of the nation's top scorers who came in averaging 21 points. And there was little reason to believe King's would overcome such a seemingly insurmountable deficit over the final few minutes.

A daunting task?

Not to King's.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rader said. "I think people should be intimidated by us."

"We just came out and played," Michaels said. "We try not to look at what team is nationally-ranked.

"I don't know why we're not nationally-ranked."

That may sound like a bunch of bravado.

But without it, King's wouldn't have pulled out the second-most shocking comeback in Wilkes-Barre playoff basketball lore.

This was Jay Williams all over again, coming down the court to drill three straight three-point field goals while leading the Wilkes University men all the way back from an eight-point deficit in the final 38 seconds to beat Cabrini in the 1996 NCAA tournament.

Only the King's comeback featured a whole host of playmakers like Williams.

There was Rader, scoring 27 points – more than she'd ever scored in a college game before – by getting hotter than any Lady Monarch has ever been from behind the arc.

There was Michaels, determination etched into her face, feeding 10 assists and scoring 12 points after being held scoreless until the final minute of the first half against a defense designed to stop her.

There was Molly Dahl hitting her second basket of the game – a three-pointers with 97 seconds to play which pulled King's within four points. And there was Atchison scoring her only points on a three-ball with 63 seconds remaining to get the Lady Monarchs within one and set up the winning bucket by Michaels.

"I really don't think you can explain it," Atchison said. "Just our desire to win."

Some fantastic finishes really don't need an explanation. They're just built on an unshakeable belief in an old adage that's proven true when winners never quit.

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