Carlee Stelter’s confidence never wavered.
The Mohawk High senior, playing in what well could have been the last high school basketball game of her career, knew what was going to happen.
With .1 of a second remaining in Saturday’s WPIAL Class 3A girls basketball quarterfinal game against Avonworth, Stelter calmly toed the line and sank two free throws to give the Lady Warriors a 53-51 victory and send her team to the semifinals.
“I was just thinking about how I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life,” Stelter said. “With .1 seconds left on the clock it was a lot of pressure, but I knew I could make them.”
Stelter, who finished the game with 13 points, has been among the best free-throw shooters in the county throughout the year and currently sits second in the county at 74.5 percent from the charity stripe. Basketball talent comes naturally to her, since she is a daughter of one of Mohawk’s all-time girls basketball greats, Lori Haswell Stelter.
“I think she carries the confidence there, she wants that shot,” Mohawk coach Mike O’Lare said of Stelter. “Every coach wants that type of player.”
O’Lare, when asked what he was thinking when Stelter stepped to the line, said he recalled a moment at practice the day before the game that put him at ease.
“It’s funny you ask that, because when she got to the line the first thing I thought of was the day before at practice. She wouldn’t leave until she made 10 in a row,” he said. “She got to nine a couple of times and missed and stayed with it. I think it’s one of those moments where it shows that hard work really pays off.”
For Stelter, her hard work and preparation was what resulted in her confidence in the situation.
“I really felt confident in all the free throws I shot this whole season. Plus, I’ve been playing since I was in sixth grade so I just felt really comfortable going to the line,” she said.
After injuries derailed the Lady Warriors a season ago, resulting in a first-round playoff exit, O’Lare said he was happy to see his team get rewarded with a defining moment this season.
“Obviously that’s kind of fun for coaches and players to watch that and for parents to watch that,” he said. “They put a lot of time in and they invest a lot, so it’s good to see them get that kind of reward at this part of the season. Hopefully we’ve got more opportunities for that to come.”
With the Lady Warriors set to take on Bishop Canevin tonight in the semifinals, Stelter is set on refocusing and putting Saturday’s big win behind her.
“I feel like we’ve been playing our best basketball at the end of the season,” she said. “Saturday was a little rough, but I just feel really confident in my team. We just have to deal with adversity and play our guts out and play together and stay together.”