SCRANTON — Bridgette Mann said she felt the time was right to test her long-distance shooting accuracy.
That’s when things went all wrong for Wyoming Valley West.
Her path under the basket continually blocked, Mann stepped outside and nailed two pivotal three-pointers on Friday, lifting Wallenpaupack to a 44-42 overtime win against the Spartans in the District 2 Class 4A championship game at Lackawanna College.
“The three was gutsy on my part,” Mann said. “I knew I had to take it. When you feel it, you feel it.”
Her expert shooting from long distance made the upstart Spartans feel sick.
“The kids are highly disappointed,” Valley West coach Paul Appel said. “We were right there.”
Behind 6-foot-2 center Olivia Hoffman, the Spartans — seeded second in the tourney behind Wallenpaupack — went above and beyond.
They trailed 23-17 at halftime, but Hoffman became an unstoppable force out of intermission.
The smooth junior scored 12 of her 14 points during the third and fourth quarters, registered 10 rebounds and blocked five shots after halftime.
Her driving layup tied the game at 25-25 halfway through the third quarter, then Hoffman followed that with a short fall-away jumper to boost Valley West to a 27-25 lead.
“She’s turning into one of the best players,” Appel said. “We made some adjustments. It was more of an adjustment (of) where she was on the floor. We got her the ball in good spots.”
Then Mann started spotting up.
Her drives to the hoop were swatted away time and again by Hoffman in the second half, so Mann just reversed course and took another route.
As Valley West appeared ready to pull away in the fourth quarter, Mann nailed a three early in the period to forge a 36-36 tie. Her basket with under two minutes to play in regulation gave Wallenpaupack a 40-38 lead, but Hoffman tossed in the tying basket with 58 seconds on the clock to force overtime.
“No complaints about the effort,” Appel said. “Got the lead for a little while, the kids played super. It says a lot about the character of our kids. It was whoever had the ball last.”
It turned out Mann made the last big shots.
After Tara Judge scored the first bucket to put the Spartans ahead in overtime, Mann responded with her third trey of the night to give Wallenpaupack the lead, then sewed it up her team’s second straight district title and trip to states with a free throw.
“Satisfaction and relief,” Mann said is what she felt. “Looking at the scoreboard, I knew if I hit this it’d put us up by one, or up by two. Me being the type of person I am, I want to put my team on top.
“We knew they were a difficult team. Last year we won it and it was just that great of a feeling, we wanted to do it again.”
Meanwhile, the Spartans plan to try again next year after winding up two points short of the PIAA tournament.
“It’s a great learning experience for them,” Appel said. “We just tell them to try and take a lesson from it. We learned, so we can bring it into next year.”
WYOMING VALLEY WEST (42): Tara Judge 2 0-0 4, Cassie Smicherko 6 0-0 13, Olivia Hoffman 7 0-0 14, Megan Kane 4 1-2 9, Cheyenne Reese 1 0-0 2, Savannah Piazza 0 0-0 0, Lauren Lupinski 0 0-0 0, Emily Tyler 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 1-2 42.
WALLENPAUPACK (44): Alexis Roman 10 3-4 23, Bridgette Mann 5 1-2 14, Reanne Erhardt 1 0-0 3, Katelyn Ragonese 1 0-0 2, Danielle Palazzi 1 0-0 2, Paige Hiller 0 0-0 0, Nickole Mann 0 0-1 0. Totals 18 4-7 44.
Wyoming Valley West 12 5 13 10 2 — 42
Wallenpaupack 14 9 4 13 4 — 44
Three-point goals: WVW 1 (Smicherko); WAL 4 (B. Mann 3, Erhardt)