The perseverance of Wyoming Area’s girls basketball team showed in its final month of the season. Three weeks ago, the Warriors lost to Nanticoke by 22 points. Earlier in the season, that margin was 23.
But something in the air over the past month propelled Wyoming Area to one of the best teams in the district. On Wednesday at Holy Redeemer, the three-seed Warriors would put together one of their best efforts to date against top-seed Nanticoke.
Despite 41 points from sophomore standout Sarah Holweg, the Warriors left everything on the floor in an 80-73, double-overtime loss to Nanticoke in the third place game of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District 2 Class AAA playoffs. The win would have guaranteed Wyoming Area a spot in the PIAA Championships.
Instead, the Warriors are left with a 16-10 season after posting a 10-3 mark in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
“It was total resiliency,” Wyoming Area coach Chad Lojewski said. “They were so persistent on defense and offense. We had a very specific game plan going in. This was good team versus good team and they made more shots than we did.”
Against Nanticoke with a chance to go to the PIAA Championships, Wyoming Area faced a tall task. In a back-and-forth game most of the second half, the Warriors were down 58-53 with two minutes to play when Holweg scored Wyoming Area’s final seven points of regulation to force overtime. She scored 13 points in the final eight minutes of regulation. In the fourth quarter and two overtime periods combined, the sophomore had 24 points.
A four-point Wyoming Area lead in the first overtime was quickly erased and the two teams went to a second overtime. From there, Nanticoke slowly pulled away and earned its berth at states.
Wyoming Area’s playoff road started with a convincing 68-37 win over Valley View. Two days later, the Warriors took care of six-seed Dallas. On Monday, Feb. 22, the Warriors would fall to Abington Heights in the semifinals. That set up the showdown with Nanticoke.
Rachael Solano finished with 13 points against Nanticoke, while Nicole Wright contributed 10 points and eight rebounds. Addison Orzel had five points and 12 rebounds.
Lojewski hopes to use this year’s performance to fuel his future Wyoming Area teams.
“We already raised the bar by going four playoff games into disticts,” he said. “That’s what the new threshold is. We have to get to the semifinals. I felt like we competed very well in every game.”
Holweg a true Warrior
In four playoff games this season, Holweg, who was named the WVC Division 2 co-Player of the Year in the regular season, played some of her best basketball. In the opening round, the sophomore scored 21 points in a win over Valley View. What she did in the quarterfinals against Dallas was record-worthy.
Holweg scored a Wyoming Area school record 44 points in the second half rout of Dallas — she had 32 points at halftime. Her worst game of the playoffs game in a loss to Abington Heights where she scored just nine points. But on Wednesday, everything was falling.
“She can overcome it really quick — keeps it professional,” Lojewski said. “Sometimes you have to let the game come to you. Sometimes it’s a two or a three. She always gets us going.”
Her 41 points put her at 494 points for the season and 767 points in her first two years with the Warriors. She averaged 28.75 points per game in the playoffs.
Warriors face adversity
When junior guard Katie Wolfgang was lost to injury during the Jan. 7 game against Nanticoke, the Warriors were forced to look for scoring elsewhere. In Wolfgang’s 17 games before her injury, she was averaging 12.8 points per game and in the top-15 in WVC scoring.
Although she missed the latter half of the season, Wolfgang was still named to the WVC Division 1 First Team. Lojewski said his four seniors — Wright, Solano, Jessica Sorick, Jordan Kelly and Mia Remplewicz — stepped up to take the load down the stretch.
“That’s where we had to lean on our seniors,” Lojewski said. “These girls played awesome toward the end of the year. For us to come back after an all-star goes down was a tremendous effort.”