First Posted: 2/10/2013
Pittston Area pounded Crestwood on the boards throughout Thursday night's Wyoming Valley Conference girls basketball game.
That rebounding advantage finally translated into points when the Lady Patriots needed them most – with the Division I lead on the line in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots converted offensive rebounds into baskets four times in the final seven minutes to pull out a 49-45 victory in a meeting between two of the three teams that entered the night with just two division losses.
The first time they outrebounded us, said Pittston Area's Mia Hopkins, who converted two of the offensive rebounds herself and scored another off a Liz Waleski rebound and assist. We knew we had to box out a lot.
Hopkins finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds. She led the team to an overwhelming 42-20 advantage on the boards.
We have been working on rebounding intently at practice, Pittston Area coach Kathy Healey said. We have a lot of contests with rebounds.
We knew it was important coming in. We watched film of our last game, asked the kids what they thought we needed to do and they said ‘Rebound.'
That effort on the boards allowed Pittston Area to avenge one of its only two losses.
Waleski finished with seven rebounds, including five offensive. She had the other fourth-quarter basket off an offensive rebound, converting a Jackie Rabender pass.
Pittston Area (10-2 Div. I, 18-2 overall) trailed by as many as six in the first half, but used an 11-0 advantage in points off rebounds during the second half to recover.
Give Crestwood credit, Healey said. They had a couple of starters out, but they came to play.
Rebecca Rutkowski led the Comets (8-3 Div. I, 12-7) with 14 points, seven rebounds and nine blocked shots. Maddie Ritsick scored a team-high 17 points while Maury Cronauer provided seven assists and five steals.
Crestwood controlled the pace early and was ahead or tied for more than 14 of the 16 minutes in the first half.
The Comets held the Patriots scoreless for 5:12 while bridging the first and second quarters with a 9-1 run to a 13-7 lead.
Ritsick had five points and Rutkowski four during the run. Ritsick produced the 13-7 lead with a three-pointer from the left wing and hit another from the same spot a minute later.
We knew they were going to come out in different defenses so I told my girls to just be patient, Crestwood coach Isiah Walker said. We were going to slow it down, figure out what they were in, then attack it.
They like to get you going full speed, not know what's going on and take bad shots.
Ali Brady came off the bench and hit three baskets in a three-minute span of the second quarter to help keep Pittston Area within 23-20 at the half.
Eastin Ashby's three-pointer from the right wing put Pittston Area ahead to stay, 33-31, with 1:33 left in the third quarter.
Ashby and Ali Brady finished with eight points each.
Waleski also had four steals and three assists. Hopkins also had four assists, a steal and a blocked shot.
Ashby and Brady finished with eight points each.
The Patriots are tied with Dallas for the Division 1 lead. Both teams are 10-2 going into the final week. PA plays at Valley West Monday and home versus Coughlin on Wednesday to end the season. The Coughlin game is a likely win. The Crusaders are 0-12. Valley West (8-4) will be a tough one, especially on the road.
Dallas is at Berwick (4-7) and home versus Valley West.
The Patriots are tied with Dallas in the District 3A seeding standings, too. Scranton Prep, Holy Redeemer and Nanticoke are the top three seeds. Wyoming Area is 12th of the 17 teams eligible for the District 2 3A tourney.
The stage seemed to be set for the Warriors Thursday in Exeter. They were coming off a mild upset of GAR on Monday, it was senior night and they had a chance to go over .500 by defeating last-place Meyers. But the Mohawks Salimah Biggs scored 12 of her game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter to lead Meyers to the win on Thursday.
Val Bott scored 12 for WA, six on a pair of 3s.
The Warriors dropped to 5-6, but stayed ahead of Meyers (4-7) by a game.
Abby Thornton and Felicia Turner scored 9; Emily Wolfgang, 5 and Ashley Blannett, 6.
Wyoming Area trailed heading into the fourth quarter but outscored Division 3 leader GAR 18-9 in the fourth Monday in Exeter.
Serra Degnan led the Warriors with 20 points, including eight in the fourth. Thornton scored 15. Blanett scored 8 and Wolfgang 4.
Brea Seabrook's 15 points led GAR.
Pittston Area ran away with it in the first half and held Tunkhannock to eight points in each quarter to pick up a win at home.
Barber's 17 points was tops for the Patriots, Hopkins scored 14 and Waleski,10, with one 3-pointer. Ashby had 8 and Rabender, 4.
Tunkhannock's Gabby Alguire hit three three-pointers and finished with 13 points.
PA at Valley West
WA at Wyoming Sem
Coughlin at PA
WA at Holy Redeemer
(End regular season)
Pittston Area …10-2
Valley West …8-4
Holy Redeemer …10-1
Lake Lehman …8-2
Wyoming Area …5-6