EXETER — Racing toward the basket during a fast-break frenzy, Brianne Frascella hit the brakes, thought about throwing the ball to a teammate, then reconsidered and swished a shot herself.
Like the rest of the Holy Redeemer Royals, the super sub hit on a recurring theme.
As Frascella figured, why stop now?
The Royals didn’t.
Alexis Lewis rolled for 23 points, Alyssa Platko added 10 timely points Saturday and Redeemer earned a PIAA Class 3A playoff berth this week by pasting Pittston Area 55-40 in a third-place District 2 girls basketball game at Wyoming Area High School.
“If we didn’t win, it would be a shame,” Platko said. “We worked so hard to get here. It’s great to continue on.”
The surge forward began for the Royals by going back to their past.
The last time Redeemer played Pittston Area, the Royals came out on the short end of a 51-46 championship game in the Pittston Area Holiday Tournament finals Dec. 30.
But it wasn’t so much revenge that motivated Redeemer, it was more the chance to prove what a difference a couple of months made.
“We played Pittston back in December and they beat us,” Holy Redeemer coach Chris Parker said. “To play them now in a do-or-die game and to win by 15 shows you how far my team has come.
“This is not the same team Pittston played seven weeks ago.”
That was clear from the start.
Lewis cut loose with nine points in the opening quarter — including the first of her two 3-pointers — to give the Royals a quick 14-7 lead.
And the her teammates made sure 20-7 Redeemer never lost it.
“Lex, she fuels the team,” Platko said. “When she’s on a roll, everyone else starts to get psyched.”
The 22-5 Patriots just got peeved.
They never really threatened Redeemer’s stranglehold on the lead, as starters Mia Hopkins and Jackie Rabender both fouled out as Pittston Area’s hopes to extend its season got fouled up.
“We couldn’t do anything,” Pittston Area coach Kathy Healey said. “We touched them and we get a foul. Everyone’s in foul trouble. We were taken out of our game early with the foul trouble.
“We can’t play a big game like this and expect your best players to be sitting on the bench.”
But Platko argued the tightly-called game worked both ways.
“It was tough. You had to change what you were doing,” Platko said. “There were a lot of tight calls.
“I even fouled out.”
Not before producing some big moments for the Royals, though.
Platko pounded inside for a layup that gave Redeemer a 10-point lead in the second period, added a couple free throws to help her team maintain a six-point lead at the end of three quarters and finished the fourth with four points to help boost Redeemer’s lead back to double-digits.
And while Lewis used a three-point bomb and finished with her final six points in the last period to push away Pittston Area’s comeback threat, Frascella came off the bench with seven points in the final eight minutes to help the Royals pull away for good.
“Alexis is a great player,” Healey said. “She came to play. (But) their other kids stepped up, too.”
Pittston Area tried to step up its rally efforts a couple times.
With Hopkins — a contender for Wyoming Valley Conference MVP and a Monmouth recruit — held to just seven points, the Patriots got some strong play in stretches from Liz Waleski, Eastin Ashby and Allie Barber.
Waleski scored five of her nine points in the second quarter to keep the Patriots in range at halftime, 27-18. Barber’s three-pointer with just over a minute to play in the third pulled Pittston Area within 35-29. Ashby finished with a team-high 11 points, including a trey that provided Pittston Area’s last hope, bringing the Patriots within 42-33 with 6:27 remaining.
But Redeemer — edged by Honesdale 56-53 in the district semifinals Wednesday — refused to allow the double-digit lead it built in the first half slip below six in the second, on its way to securing a spot in the state playoffs.
“No question we’re deserving,” Parker said. “We’re a (three-point) bucket away from playing for the district championship. This team is battle-tested.”
PITTSTON AREA (40): Eastin Ashby 4 2-4 11, Liz Waleski 3 3-5 9, Allie Barber 3 2-2 9, Mia Hopkins 3 1-2 7, Jackie Rabender 0 0-2 0, Allie Brady 0 0-0 0, Cales Owens 0 0-2 0, Jamie Chisdock 1 0-0 2, Brooke Balchune 0 1-2 1, Haley Norwillo 0 1-2 1, Kaitlyn Simyan 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 10-21 40.
HOLY REDEEMER (55): Sarah Warnagaris 0 2-4 2, Alana Wilson 2 2-5 7, Alyssa Platko 3 4-4 10, Alexis Lewis 10 1-2 23, Sara Altemose 1 0-0 2, Lydia Lawson 1 2-2 4, Chelsea Skrepenak 0 0-0 0, Brianne Frascella 3 1-2 7, Selina Malacari 0 0-0 0, Rebecca Prociak 0 0-0 0, Julie Kosik 0 0-0 0, Kayla Hons 0 0-2 0. Totals 20 12-21 55.
Pittston Area 7 11 11 11 — 40
Holy Redeemer 14 13 8 20 — 55
Three-point field goals: PA 2 (Ashby, Barber); HR 3 (Lewis 2, Wilson)