Last updated: February 20. 2014 11:46PM - 2493 Views
By - psokoloski@civitasmedia.com

Pittston Area senior Jackie Rabender drives toward the basket as Berwick's Taylor Montana guards her during a District 2 Class 3A first round game Thursday.
Pittston Area senior Jackie Rabender drives toward the basket as Berwick's Taylor Montana guards her during a District 2 Class 3A first round game Thursday.
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YATESVILLE - In a rough-and-tumble game, Jackie Rabender pushed back.

Actually, she pushed first.

And her spirited play shoved Pittston Area right into the District 2 Class 3A quarterfinals.

Rabender led the Patriots on a game-opening 13-point rally, then Pittston Area stood up to Berwick’s physically bruising defense while controlling a 46-28 victory in a district playoff opener at Pittston Area High School.

“As a senior, I think it’s definitely important,” Rabender said of her team’s quick run to a 13-0 lead. “I don’t want my last season to end.”

So she led Pittston Area’s charge at the start.

Rabender scored six points and grabbed four rebounds within the first six minutes, and Pittston Area’s swarming defense held Berwick without a point until Ayrin Shortlidge scored with 50 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.

It couldn’t have been a more perfect start to the playoffs for a fourth-seeded Pittston Area team that hadn’t played in eight days.

“Probably not,” said Pittston Area coach Kathy Healey, whose fourth-seeded team will meet N0. 5 North Pocono in the quarterfinal round Saturday. “We talked about it before the game — to get out on them early. The kids came out fired up. They were ready.”

The Patriots probably weren’t ready for what happened next.

They were held to just two points themselves through the entire second quarter — on a short Liz Waleski jumper — and Berwick pulled within 15-9 at halftime on a Bri Floryshak bucket with 39 seconds to play in the second quarter.

“The first quarter, we played great,” Rabender said. “The second quarter, we didn’t play as well.”

“It’s a credit to their defense, too,” said Healey, whose Patriots improved to 17-4 overall. “They were switching defenses. We have to adjust.”

Berwick came close to readjusting Pittston Area’s comfort level a couple of times.

The Bulldogs’ physical, aggressive defensive approach knocked Pittston Area’s Ashby sisters, Eastin and Taryn, to the floor and out of the game for brief stretches during the third quarter and sent Rabender sprawling a few times in the period.

“They were definitely a tough team,” Rabender said.

And when Shortlidge popped a 3-pointer on Pittston Area, suddenly the gap was closed to 19-14 with more than 13 minutes remaining.

“It was difficult to score the entire game,” said Berwick coach Bill Phillips, whose 13th-seeded team finished its season at 8-14 — and with a third loss to Pittston Area. “We got away from our gameplan early. They jumped out to a 13-2 lead, I think we beat ourselves with turnovers — we had to be in the high 20s — and we were still only down five.”

Then the Patriots got going again. Waleski tossed in four of her 10 points in the third quarter, Taryn Ashby and Rabender added four apiece in the period, and when Rabender built Pittston Area’s lead back to double digits with a pair of foul shots after going hard to the floor.

“Jackie’s like our silent person who, nobody knows her name,” Healey said. “She scores 19 points, and it’s a quiet 19. But she does all the little things. Unless you’re at the game, you don’t know what she does.”

What Rabender did Thursday was lead the Patriots with 11 points and six rebounds - no small feat for a 5-foot-9 inside player battling against a taller Berwick team packing the paint.

“I kind of just shot from the outside,” Rabender said. “They were waiting for me to drive.”

Allie Barber kicked the Patriots into overdrive in the final quarter, scoring eight of her 10 points to join Rabender and Waleski in double figures as Pittston Area put the game well out of reach.

“They’re a very good offensive team,” Phillips said. “They do a lot of cutting and slashing. They were much quicker than us.”


Pittston Area 46, Berwick 28

BERWICK (28) — Gabby Kishbaugh 2 0-0 4, Taylor Montana 1 0-0 2, Bri Floryshak 2 0-0 4, Allison Rinehimer 0 0-0 0, Alexis Steeber 1 0-0 2, Ayrin Shortlidge 3 0-1 8, Olivia Seely 0 1-2 1, Allie Katsock 1 0-0 2, Raina Goulstone 1 0-0 2, Hannah Woodeshick 1 0-1 3, Tori Talanca 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 1-4 28.

PITTSTON AREA (46) — Allie Barber 4 2-6 10, Liz Waleski 5 0-0 10, Taryn Ashby 3 0-2 6, Jackie Rabender 4 3-5 11, Eastin Ashby 0 5-6 5, Marley O’Brien 0 0-2 0, Jaime Chisdock 1 0-1 2, Haley Norwalk 0 0-2 0, Megan Cummings 0 0-0 0, Kirsten Durling 0 0-0 0, Jordan Fritz 0 0-0 0, Kaeli Modleski 0 0-0 0, Rachel Ferrance 1 0-0 2, Abbie Sheerer 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 10-24 46.


Pittston Area`13`2`14`17`—`46

Three-point goals — BER 3 (Shortlidge 2, Woodeshick).

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