PLYMOUTH – When Pittston Area needed a hero, the Patriots knew just who to turn to.
But it wasn't who you might expect.
Junior Ali Brady had the quarter of her life in the second quarter, turning the tide for Pittston Area while matching a career-high with 12 points as the Patriots took a 53-49 victory at Wyoming Valley West in WVC girls basketball play Monday.
The victory moves Pittston Area and Dallas closer to a playoff for the Division I title. Both are 11-2 after Dallas' win over Berwick on Monday.
Pittston Area plays Coughlin on Wednesday, and Dallas faces Valley West.
I knew thay would come out well prepared, Patriots coach Kathy Healey said of Valley West. I knew hey wanted to get us this time. They lost (55-36 on Jan. 17), so I knew this one was going to be a fight.
The Spartans led 16-10 when Brady drew a foul 2:10 into the second quarter. Four minutes later, a reserve who had made four three-pointers all season had three during that four-minute span. She also had a key stickback, showing her versatility by playing inside and out.
But it was Brady's consecutive triples -- first from the right corner, then from the left wing – that knotted the game at 26.
Ali Brady's threes from the corner … she cane do that, Healey said. She does that in JV games for us a lot. She wants the ball and she's comfortable stepping up for us.
They were clutch shots, Spartans coach Paul Appel said. Good teams have that. They adapted to the game and she made the shots she got.
Pittston Area was 5-for-8 from three-point range in the middle quarters to take the lead for good.
The Patriots opened the second half with a 29-28 lead, but Tara Judge's jumper gave the Spartans a 34-33 lead with four minutes left in the third quarter. Two free thrown from Mia Hopkins followed, giving Pittston Area the lead.
Hopkins, nominated for the McDonald's All-American game, was her usual spectacular self, even if Valley West made her work for her points. She had 17 points and 15 rebounds, both game highs.
The senior overcame the jeers of the Valley West student section in the first three quarters to be regaled with chants of MVP! MVP! from the Pittston Area student section in the fourth quarter.
Mia came to play, Healey said. But Mia doesn't want it to be all about her. She had some nice assists (three in the first half).
Liz (Waleski) had some great offensive rebounds for us (and seven in all), and Jackie Rabender had those four keys points (to extend the lead) in the fourth quarter.
Valley West used an 8-2 run early to gain control of the first half. The Spartans stymied Pittston Area's dynamic offense and showed off their own offensive talents.
Cassie Smicherko found a favorite spot on the left wing to make consecutive threes, and also had a couple of slashing drives to the basket in a 13-point night.
Cassie played a tremendous game tonight, Appel said. She's coming back from an ankle injury. She missed three games for us and is just getting back to 100 percent. You could see it tonight the way she was all over the court.
Both teams were. It was an intense game, but it was a clean game. Both teams played hard and let it all out on the court.
As Pittston Area pulled away in the final quarter, Valley West would not let the Patriots out of reach.
Hopkins' steal and breakaway basket made it 44-37, and the lead reached 48-39 with 4:30 left before the Spartans chipped away.
Down 50-43 with two minutes remaining, the Spartans elected to play defense instead of fouling, forcing a jump-ball turnover with 1:11 to play. A basket by Smicherko and a steal and layup by Cheyenne Reese (eight rebounds) drew Valley West within four, but time ran out on the comeback.
We were still within reach, Appel said. I was hoping we'd use our pressure to get a steal and we did.
Olivia Hoffman had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Valley West.
PITTSTON AREA (53): Allie Barber 1 1-2 3, Liz Waleski 4 1-2 11, Jackie Rabender 3 0-2 6, Mia Hopkins 3 13-16 19, Eastin Ashby 1 0-0 2, Ali Brady 4 1-2 12, Amy Silinskie 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 16-24 53.
WYOMING VALLEY WEST (49): Tara Judge 2 0-0 4, Cassie Smicherko 5 3-7 15, Cheyenne Reese 3 2-2 8, Megan Kane 2 0-0 5, Savannah Piazza 3 0-1 6, Olivia Hoffman 5 1-3 11, Lauren Lupinski 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 6-13 49.
|Wyoming Valley West||14||14||8||13||—||49|
3-Point Field Goals— PA 5 (Brady 3, Waleski 2); WVW 3 (Smicherko 2, Kane)
|Wyoming Valley West||8-5||13-8|
Dallas 43, Berwick 42
Lake-Lehman 46, Hanover Area 35
Pittston Area 53, Wyoming Valley West 49
Coughlin 30, Tunkhannock 28 Wyoming Area 53, Wyoming Seminary 37
Hazleton Area 50, Crestwood 49
Holy Redeemer at Meyers
MMI Prep at Nanticoke
GAR at Northwest
Berwick at Hazleton Area
Coughlin at Pittston Area
Crestwood at Tunkhannock
Hanover Area at Northwest
Lake-Lehman at Nanticoke
Meyers at GAR
MMI Prep at Wyoming Seminary
Wyoming Area at Holy Redeemer
Wyoming Valley West at Dallas
End regular season