Catie Nealon had the Dallas defense – and even her own coach – confused.
Just as Vince Bucciarelli shouted “only a lay-up” to his Abington Heights team, Nealon launched a 3-point shot from a step in front of her coach.
Nealon’s shot swished, providing the exclamation point in a 13-point, fourth-quarter streak that allowed the Lady Comets to reach the District 2 Class AAA girls basketball quarterfinals with a 42-26, home-court victory Thursday night.
“I said, ‘only a layup’,” Bucciarelli joked after the game. “That’s my cue to get the other team faked out.”
The 3-pointer was part of Nealon scoring the first nine points of the game-clinching run.
Maggie Michael’s basket less than 30 seconds into the fourth quarter had pulled Dallas within 28-23.
Nealon scored on two drives as Abington Heights began to take a patient approach to protecting the lead.
The 3-pointer, just as Bucciarelli decided it was time to slow the pace even more, made it 35-23 with 3:40 left.
Nealon hit two out of four free throws, then threw a lob pass to Breanna Toro for another basket. Nicole Getz completed the run with two free throws for a 41-23 lead with 1:35 left.
Nealon finished with a game-high 16 points. Toro added 10 points, 16 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.
Katy Comitz had 11 points, 13 rebounds and three steals for Dallas.
The Lady Comets dominated on the boards, outrebounding the Mountaineers, 50-29. That advantage allowed Abington Heights to take twice as many shots as Dallas in the first half, but hitting 20 percent (8-for-40) meant the Lady Comets only opened an 18-14 lead.
“Defensively, we worked hard because they have three good shooters,” Bucciarelli said after holding Dallas to its lowest offensive output of a 10-13 season. “Overall, I thought we played real good defense against a good offensive team.”
Sixth-seeded Abington Heights (14-9) advances to take on third-seeded Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 champion Crestwood (18-5) Saturday at 3 at Wyoming Area.