Mia Hopkins didn’t score in the first half and scored only four in the game.
That may sound like a formula for a Pittston Area loss, but Hopkins contributed in every other possible way and Allie Barber and Liz Waleski picked up the scoring slack, as the Lady Patriots defeated Nanticoke 39-26 in a District 2 3A quarterfinal at Wyoming Area Saturday afternoon.
PA, the 5th seed, advances to play the winner of no. 1 Scranton Prep and no. 16 Lake Lehman who played yesterday at Scranton. That game will be Wednesday at a site to be announced.
Barber, a speedy sophomore, slashed to the basket repeatedly for PA and scored a game-high 17. She might have had more, but several shots rattled out. She made five of nine free throws. Waleski scored 10 and Allie Brady, 6, in a game with more whistles, steals and turnovers than baskets.
The teams combined for only eight baskets from the field and 25 points in the first half, with PA leading 15-10.
The shooting was cold, but the defense was hot. Barber, with seemingly limitless energy, hounded her Nanticoke counterpart Alex Brassington on the perimeter.
Nanticoke’s Brittany Sugarski, with help from Kaley Schinski, limited Hopkins’ shots, but Hopkins rebounded, blocked shots, saved balls and assisted.
Eastin Ashby scored one point, but she played the whole game and quietly pitched in on the Patriots’ tight defense.
Hopkins fed Brady with a no-look pass under the basket that put PA up 12, 31-19 with 5:12 left in the game. Waleski pushed the lead to 14 with 2:25 left with a baseline jumper and Barber but it out of reach, 38-23, with 1:47 left with a lay up and free throw.
Sugarski and Schinski each scored six to lead the Nanticoke scoring.
The Lady Patriots got to Saturday’s game by beating Wyoming Area, 65 – 40 in a first round game on Wednesday on the PA floor.
There was no hangover from their previous game when they had a hard time getting the ball up the floor in a loss to Dallas in the WVC championship game. Against WA they pushed the ball up court from the tip with Jackie Rabender and Allie Barber scoring three quick baskets to make it 6-0. WA senior guard Serra Degnan, who would score 15 in her final game, slowed things down by hitting two free throws to make it 6-2 at 6:14 of the first. But it would be over five minutes before WA scored again on a Nicole Turner jump shot to stop an 8-0 PA run and make it 14-4with 1:10 left in the first.
The PA run included a couple of highlight reel baskets, one by Hopkins, who beat a triple-team in the paint, and another by Rabender who drove the baseline for a reverse lay up.
Hopkins scored on consecutive possessions to start the second. The Patriots threatened to go up by 20 when Ali Brady hit a 3-pointer at 5:10 to make it 26-7, but WA went on an 8-2 run to trim the lead to 13, 28-15 on a 3-pointer by Degnan with 2:15 left. On the next possession WA had three shots to cut the lead to 11, but missed.
PA ended the quarter with Waleski passing to Hopkins in the paint. WA collapsed on her and she passed it back to Waleski who hit a jumper to end the half 30-16.
Waleski started the third with a 3-pointer off the inbound to make it 33-16. Degnan drove for a lay up to make it 33-18, but PA went on a run to put the game out reach, pushing the lead over 20, 41-20 at 5:53 on two free throws by Barber.
Hopkins had seven assists and told the Times Leader after the game that was her favorite thing to do.
It showed on a flurry half way through the third when she passed to Rabender for two on the baseline. Rabender was fouled, missed the shot and Hopkins got the rebound and passed to Brady for two more.
Great atmosphere for a bonus rivalry game. The bleachers were three-quarters full and dueling student cheer sections faced off against each other on the far end of the gym.
Hopkins got her 1,000th rebound making her the only player in the program’s history to have both 1,000 points and rebounds.
She scored 23, going 13-16 shooting free throws. Waleski had 10, Rabender, eight; Brady, seven and Ashby, six.
Degnan led WA with 15; Abby Thornton had seven, hitting three jumpers from the wing. Nicole Wright and Audrey Hiedacavage each scored four.
The only negative for PA was fouling. Hopkins had her third before the second quarter was half done and the team put WA in the bonus with three minutes left in the half.
The Warriors finished 8-14.