WILKES-BARRE — Stung by two straight games that went to the wire, the Holy Redeemer Royals made it their mission to pick up their pace.
When they did, a matchup of Wyoming Valley Conference division leaders looking to regain some respect turned into a mismatch pretty quickly.
Alexis Lewis scored 10 points within the game’s first six minutes, Alyssa Platko broke out with a 14-point night and the conference’s Division II-leading Royals hammered Hanover Area, 74-38 at the Holy Redeemer gym.
“People said this was going to be a close game,” Platko said. “We weren’t going to take them lightly.”
Really, the Royals couldn’t.
Despite carrying a 12-3 overall record and a 4-0 mark at the top of Division II, the Royals stepped into a bit of a rut during the past week. They fell in overtime to Class 4A state playoff contender State College, then needed a buzzer-beating basket from Lewis to take a two-game divisional lead over Meyers on Monday.
“We were coming off a close game, (and) a loss against State College,” Platko said. “We really wanted to prove ourselves again.”
Lewis hit the game’s first two baskets, Platko added two layups and Redeemer opened the game on a 10-2 run.
Turns out, the Royals were just warming up.
Lewis, who scored 13 of her game-high 23 points in the first period, knocked down a 3-pointer to give Redeemer a 13-point lead later in the first quarter. Then she drilled another trey for a 22-7 Redeemer advantage with 2:03 before the quarter ended.
“I thought we didn’t play well defensively against Meyers,” Holy Redeemer coach Chris Parker said. “I thought our defensive effort was extremely poor. We came out from the start tonight to play hard defensively. And, of course, our offense comes from our defense.”
Meanwhile, Hanover Area wasn’t getting much of either.
The Hawkeyes fell behind 51-19 by halftime, as Platko erupted for an eight-point second quarter and two free throws from Lewis gave Holy Redeemer its first 30-point lead.
“I told them at halftime, they’re not going to face a better basketball team than the one we faced tonight,” Hanover Area coach Vic Kopko said of his players. “We’re a very young program in a retooling mode. I want them to keep their poise, mature, and grow from this experience.”
The experience this week wasn’t the greatest for the Hawkeyes.
They’re still the Division III front-runners with a 4-0 record, but two consecutive double-digit losses to Division II teams Nanticoke and Holy Redeemer dropped Hanover Area’s sterling overall record to 11-4.
The Hawkeyes’ problem has been a little personal.
On the way to Monday’s loss, Hanover Area learned the father of standout player Haley Bobos underwent a lung transplant. He is now stable but still recovering.
“We took the court against Nanticoke in tears,” Kopko said. “It’s been an emotional week for us.”
The Hawkeyes did have some bright spots, as Bobos finished with 11 points and Asdone Hooper wound up with a team-high 13.
But that did little to slow down the high-rolling Royals, who boosted their lead to 43 points with a quarter to play on the strength of eight points from Lewis and six from Rebecca Prociak in the third quarter.
“We just have to work on a lot of things to get to the next level and where we want to go — districts and states,” Platko said.
The Royals got a prime chance to work on some depth, as both teams emptied their benches for the final eight minutes.
“We’ve had a lot of those games this year,” Parker said. “You try to just work on some things, making sure kids are in the right position. When you look at Hanover’s record … credit to the Hanover coach, he’s brought their program a long way. We kind of came in with a little bit of an attitude tonight and we wanted to play well.”
Now, Hanover Area’s searching for that feeling of consistency again.
“We’re going to regroup,” Kopko promised, “and we’re going to come back better and stronger than ever. We’ll be ready.”
Holy Redeemer 74, Hanover Area 38
HANOVER AREA (38) — Asdone Hooper 4 4-7 13, Mickie Kaminski 0 1-2 1, Brittany Miller 2 3-4 7, Halee Bobos 5 1-2 11, Amber Grohowski 0 1-2 1, Chyanne Fine 2 0-2 4, Marissa Keegan 0 0-0 0, Amanda Sirak 0 0-0 0, Chasity Quinonas 0 0-0 0, Brittany McNair 0 0-0 0, Morgan Konek 0 0-0 0, Vicki Hoffman 0 1-2 1. Totals 13 11-21 38.
HOLY REDEEMER (74) — Sara Flannley 2 0-0 5, Lydia Lawson 3 0-0 6, Rebecca Prociak 4 0-0 8, Alexis Lewis 8 3-3 23, Alyssa Platko 7 0-0 14, Julie Kosik 2 0-0 6, Meghan Corridoni 1 2-2 4, Kyla Hons 1 0-0 2, Brittany Hebda 2 0-0 4, Devon Claherty 0 0-0 0, Autumn Kaminski 1 0-0 2, Rachel Platko 0 0-0 0, Melanie Kusakavitch 0 0-0 0. Totals 31 5-5 74.
Three-point goals — HAN 1 (Hooper); HR 7 (Lewis 4, Koski 2, Flannley)