BETHLEHEM — Summoning all their strength and energetic speed, a determined Holy Redeemer girls basketball team wasn’t going to let another state quarterfinal game slip away easily.
So the Royals staged a spirited rally that produced a 10-point run and cut their ever-growing deficit down to eight points.
It didn’t last long.
A supremely talented and athletic Neumann-Goretti team used a head-spinning surge over the final two minutes of the first half to severely hinder Redeemer’s upset hopes en route to a 71-49 victory in a PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal game at Bethlehem Freedom High School.
This is third straight year Neuman-Goretti has ended the District 2 champion Royals’ state run.
“It was great to shock out district,” Redeemer senior Maya Kornfeld said. “We wanted to shock everyone by winning this game.
“It didn’t work out.”
“They’re good,” first-year Holy Redeemer coach John Jezorwski said. “They’re just so physical, strong and long. They’re just big and fast and strong. I thought we matched their intensity. We just couldn’t match their physicality. We don’t see that in our league.”
The Royals saw Minika Glenn score eight of her 16 points in the first quarter, but hung within four points until the very end of the period.
Then, Neumann-Goretti took off on a 14-0 surge that threatened to bury the Royals in an avalanche of athleticism. Smooth forward Chyna Nixon popped a couple of net-breezing jumpers during the run, and Ashley Jones came off the bench with a flurry of eight points as the Saints shot their lead to 27-9 midway through the second quarter.
But Redeemer wasn’t rolling over.
Sam Rajza drilled a 3-pointer to take the deficit down to 11 points, and Kornfeld converted a three-point play that pulled the Royals within 27-19 with 2:24 remaining in the opening half.
“I thought we would end the quarter good,” Kornfeld said. “We got it down to eight points. Then we had a couple stupid turnovers, three plays in a row.
“All of a sudden, it was a 20-point game.”
Glenn hit a couple more buckets, Jones added three points, and just like that, Goretti was back in complete control by halftime with nine straight points and a 36-19 advantage.
“That’s on me,” Jezorwski said. “We cut it to 27-19, they scored 10 points in 47 seconds. That should never happen. I should have called a timeout there.”
Nixon came out of the locker room and popped a pair of 3-pointers, Glenn scored her final four points and the Saints took a comfortable 51-28 lead into the fourth quarter before easing up on the gas.
“They were really good competition,” Kornfeld said. “I don’t think we ever thought we couldn’t beat them. But they played a very good game. We got ourselves too deep in a hole. I think they definitely pressed us harder than any other team did. They were very athletic and quick.”
Jones led the 22-5 Saints back into their fourth consecutive state semifinal round with 17 points, while Nixon and Glenn both hit 16.
Rajza had 15 points as the only double-figure scorer for the Royals, who finished 23-6 and with a second consecutive District 2 title attained by upsetting previously-unbeaten Dunmore — and with Redeemer’s fourth straight trip to quarterfinal round of the PIAA tournament.
“I’m proud of my girls,” Jezorwski said. “They made my first year wonderful.”
PIAA Class 3A girls second round
Neumann-Goretti 71, Holy Redeemer 49
HOLY REDEEMER (49) — Maya Kornfeld 2 1-3 5, Irelyn Jannuzzi 2 0-0 4, Julia Andrejko 0 0-0 0, Sam Yencha 1 6-6 8, Sam Rajza 3 8-11 15, Talia Kosierowski 2 0-0 5, Cameron Marcinkowski 2 2-2 6, Randie Kuhar 2 0-0 4, Lauren Wasiakowski 1 0-0 2, Sarah Kuderka 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 17-22 49.
NEUMANN-GORETTI (71) — Kiara Koger 0 0-0 0, Minika Glenn 8 0-0 16, Chyna Nixon 6 2-4 16, Tatiana Jones 4 0-0 8, Jabria Ingram 3 0-0 7, Ashley Jones 6 4-7 17, Dajiah Parmley 1 1-2 3, Angel Ricks 2 0-0 4, Chelsea Kebbler 0 0-0 0, Mia Iannacone 0 0-0 0. Totals 30 7-13 71.
Three-point goals — HR 2 (Rajza, Kosierowski); NG 4 (Nixon 2, Ingram, Jones).
Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski