The first deep shot of the game Julie Kosik attempted ripped through the net and nearly brought the house down on its way to the floor.
So did the next one.
And the next.
By the time she was done, Kosik had five three-point field goals in the first half. And Holy Redeemer had a lead to play with.
From that point on, Pittston Area couldn’t muster up enough offense against the Royals in the District 2 Class 3A girls basketball third-place game at Wilkes University’s Marts Center last weekend.
Kosik celebrated her 18th birthday in style Saturday, giving the Royals a big boost off the bench until big guns Alexis Lewis and Alyssa Platko got going in the second half as Redeemer pulled away from the Patriots, 62-46.
The loss ends the season for Pittston Area, which finished 19-5. This was the second straight season the Patriots were eliminated from state playoff contention by Holy Redeemer. It is also the last season Pittston Area will compete in 3A for a while - the Patriots will move to 4A next season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my girls,” Pittston Area coach Kathy Healey said. “We had an amazing season. Nobody would think we were going to win 19 games, we had a chance to win the league, we’re in the Final Four of Triple-A.
“And (going to) 4A, that’s fine, too. We’ll play where we play. We’re still going to come out and work hard.”
Allie Barber and Eastin Ashby each poured in a team-high 14 points. Liz Waleski added 11.
The Patriots simply found Kosik a little too difficult to deal with. Because without her, things seemed to be playing right into Pittston Area’s hands.
The Patriots double-teamed Redeemer’s star scorer Lewis, holding her scoreless in the first quarter and to just six points in the opening half.
Meanwhile, Waleski scored six points in the opening quarter, and Barber and Ashby both hit a couple of baskets as Pittston Area shot out to a 16-7 lead.
“We didn’t want to come out and press right away — something we do a lot — because we felt Pittston would have prepared for that,” Redeemer coach Chris Parker said.
But Kosik’s shooting touch helped save the day. She fired up four three-point goals in the second quarter — pumping her fist harder and letting out a louder shriek after each one — as the Royals turned a nine-point deficit into a 25-19 lead.
“I’d be embarrassed to see myself,” Kosik said of her on-court celebration.
Nobody could have predicted Kosik would go off the way she did.
“We knew she could get hot, we knew that,” Healey said. “(But) you’re so focused on Alexis.”
The Patriots pulled within 27-25 at halftime on Eastin Ashby’s three-point field goal just before the horn and Kosik didn’t score again.
But she didn’t have to.
Lewis got loose for nine of her game-high 20 points in the third quarter — including a three-point play that gave the Royals a double-digit lead midway through.
And Platko broke out a strong scoring game on the blocks, tossing in six points in each of the final two quarters to finish with 16 points while helping Holy Redeemer pull away.
But it all started with a hot hand by a non-starter. It helped the 21-5 Royals step out of a rut.