EXETER ‚?? As the Dallas Mountaineers kept turning each turnover or rebound into easy points in the blink of an eye, Katy Comitz had to blink her own eyes.
Was what she was seeing really true?
‚??Honestly, it felt surreal,‚?Ě Comitz said. ‚??We had lost to them twice. We just came out and wanted to be ready.‚?Ě
It turns out Dallas was more than prepared to pull off a championship.
Comitz came off the bench with a career-high 19 points Friday and played a huge role in helping Dallas‚?? swarming press defense paste Pittston Area 74-44 in the Wyoming Valley Conference Division I girls basketball title game at Wyoming Area High School.
‚??I think when we press, we really build up our momentum,‚?Ě said Comitz, a 5-foot-7 junior guard whose previous career high was a 12-point effort nearly two months ago. ‚??The press fuels our offense.‚?Ě
It simply ran Pittston Area out of gas.
Dallas opened the second half with a 14-point blitz that turned a four-point halftime deficit into a 43-33 lead. Much of that was triggered by a hard-pressing defense that stole of the ball off the dribble, forced errant passes and rushed shots and flustered Pittston Area into a 16-minute marathon of mistakes.
‚??I‚??m thrilled,‚?Ě Dallas coach Kelly Johnson said.
She should be.
Once her 17-4 Mountaineers got their hands on the ball, they didn‚??t keep it for long ‚?? zipping crisp, accurate passes all the way down the court while striking again and again with lightning-fast baskets.
‚??We have the personnel to play that style of play,‚?Ě Johnson said. ‚??We like to run.‚?Ě
That fast-paced attack didn‚??t exactly catch Pittston Area by surprise. In fact, the Patriots thwarted it twice this season while beating Dallas in both regular-season meetings between the clubs.
‚??We broke their press two other games,‚?Ě said Pittston Area coach Kathy Healey, whose team fell to 20-3 overall. ‚??They had to take it off when we played them.
‚??It just wasn‚??t our night.‚?Ě
This time, the Mountaineers tweaked their gameplan a bit, flooding passing lanes and poking the ball away from Pittston Area players off the dribble.
‚??It was a defensive adjustment that we made specifically for this game,‚?Ě Johnson said. ‚??I‚??m very happy with how it worked.‚?Ě
Nobody worked it better than Comitz, who helped neutralize Pittston Area scoring star Mia Hopkins for most of the night.
Guarded by other players, Hopkins hit seven points in the opening quarter. But with Comitz hounding her, Hopkins finished with 12 points, which equaled her season low scoring output.
‚??I think we all had a job to do,‚?Ě Comitz said. ‚??And we all got it done.‚?Ě
‚??Katy‚??s a very well-rounded player,‚?Ě Johnson said. ‚??She‚??s a tough-as-nails kind of kid.‚?Ě
And suddenly, the Mountaineers were an extremely tough team for the Patriots to beat a third time this season.
Eastin Ashby‚??s three-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer lifted Pittston Area into a 16-13 lead. And Jackie Rabender scored seven points to ignite Pittston Area‚??s 11-point run that ended the first half and sent the Patriots to the break with a 31-27 advantage.
But it didn‚??t last.
The defensive intensity that carried Dallas to a seven-point lead midway through the second quarter returned in the second half, and Comitz was right in the middle of the sudden uprising.
She drilled a three to pulled Dallas within 33-32 early in the third quarter, and had eight points by the end of the frame. When Talia Szatkowski ‚?? who joined Comitz with a team-high 19 points ‚?? added seven in the quarter, the Mountaineers began pulling away, 50-37 with eight minutes to play.
‚??I felt very comfortable,‚?Ě Comitz said. ‚??My team, we just work so well together. They found me when I was open.‚?Ě
The Mountaineers didn‚??t give Pittston Area any more openings the rest of the way.
With Ashley Dunbar making smooth passes and scoring 12 points, Tanner Englehart pulling down rebounds at will and scoring 12 points and Sam Missal, Jess Hiscox and Rachel Olszewski working like a well-oiled engine, Dallas ran its lead to 20 points, then finally 30.
‚??It feels amazing,‚?Ě Comitz said. ‚??It‚??s the best feeling. I think we just had the confidence. I‚??m so proud of my team.‚?Ě
DALLAS (74): Ashley Dunbar 3 5-6 11, Tanner Englehart 4 4-5 12, Talia Szatkowski 6 7-12 19, Jess Hiscox 3 0-0 6, Rachel Olszewski 0 0-0 0, Katy Comitz 7 2-2 19, Sam Missal 2 0-0 4, Lindsay Jacobs 1 0-0 3, Courtney Hoats 0 0-0 0, Taylor Kelley 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26 18-25 74.
PITTSTON AREA (44): Allie Barber 2 0-0 4, Liz Waleski 3 2-2 8, Mia Hopkins 5 1-4 12, Ali Brady 2 0-3 4, Eastin Ashby 2 0-2 5, Jackie Rabender 4 0-0 9, Jamie Chisdock 1 0-0 2, Brooke Balchoune 0 0-0 0, Cales Owens 0 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Simeon 0 0-0 0; Totals: 19 3-11 44.
3-Point Field Goals‚?? DAL 4 (Comitz 3, Jacobs); PIT 3 (Rabender, Hopkins, Ashby)