SCRANTON- With the game tied at 40-all entering the fourth quarter, Scranton Prep guard Danielle Dalessandro knew she needed to step up her game or risk having the Classics be eliminated from the state playoffs.
Dalessandro did just that, scoring seven points, grabbing five rebounds and picking up two key steals in the quarter to led Scranton Prep to a 60-57 victory over Southern Lehigh in a first-round PIAA Class AAA girls contest March 9 at Marywood University.
“It’s the first round of the state tournament, so in the fourth quarter you just have to give it your all and leave everything on the court,” Dalessandro said. “If you lose, go home and think about what you could have done, you probably won’t be able to sleep.”
Dalessandro epitomized those words when she dove out of bounds to save a ball off a missed free throw in the final minutes.
The senior drained a 3-pointer to start Prep’s 13-3 run to begin the fourth quarter, giving Prep a 41-32 lead with 2:55 left in the game.
“The 3-pointer boosted my confidence and everything came together at that point,” Dalessandro said.
Southern Lehigh rattled off eight straight points in just 24 seconds to cut Prep’s lead to 54-52 with 1:57 left in the game.
Classics junior guard Tricia Byrne, who had a game-high 24 points, including the 1,000th of her career during the first minute of the game, scored 10 points and grabbed two rebounds in the third quarter that was capped by a nifty up and under layup in the final seconds.
“We came out with a rough start so we had to come out in the second half a little bit stronger,” Byrne said.
Scranton Prep head coach Ross Macciocco believes the team got back to basics in the third quarter.
“We came out and executed and that’s how we got the lead,” he said.
Despite making just 9 of 18 free throws in the fourth quarter, the Classics hung on for the victory.
“Overall, the girls didn’t quit,” Macciocco said. “I thought we played tough and physical for four quarters. Of course, at the end of the game, foul shooting would have made it a little bit easier for us.”
Brianna Prince led Southern Lehigh with 16 points and six rebounds. Melann Amory scored 12 points on four 3-pointers and Madyson Cambell scored 10 for the Spartans.
Scranton Prep (26-2) will play Palmyra Area (26-0), the top-seed from District 3, on Wednesday, March 13 at 6 p.m. at Martz Hall in Pottsville.