YATESVILLE – Pittston Area pounded Crestwood on the boards throughout Thursday night's Wyoming Valley Conference girls basketball game.
That rebounding advantage finally translated into points when the Lady Patriots needed them most – with the Division I lead on the line in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots converted offensive rebounds into baskets four times in the final seven minutes to pull out a 49-45 victory in a meeting between two of the three teams that entered the night with just two division losses.
The first time they outrebounded us, said Pittston Area's Mia Hopkins, who converted two of the offensive rebounds herself and scored another off a Liz Waleski rebound and assist. We knew we had to box out a lot.
Hopkins finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds. She led the team to an overwhelming 42-20 advantage on the boards.
We have been working on rebounding intently at practice, Pittston Area coach Kathy Healey said. We have a lot of contests with rebounds.
We knew it was important coming in. We watched film of our last game, asked the kids what they thought we needed to do and they said ‘Rebound.'
That effort on the boards allowed Pittston Area to avenge one of its only two losses.
Waleski finished with seven rebounds, including five offensive. She had the other fourth-quarter basket off an offensive rebound, converting a Jackie Rabender pass.
Pittston Area (10-2 Div. I, 18-2 overall) trailed by as many as six in the first half, but used an 11-0 advantage in points off rebounds during the second half to recover.
Give Crestwood credit, Healey said. They had a couple of starters out, but they came to play.
Rebecca Rutkowski led the Comets (8-3 Div. I, 12-7) with 14 points, seven rebounds and nine blocked shots. Maddie Ritsick scored a team-high 17 points while Maury Cronauer provided seven assists and five steals.
Crestwood controlled the pace early and was ahead or tied for more than 14 of the 16 minutes in the first half.
The Comets held the Patriots scoreless for 5:12 while bridging the first and second quarters with a 9-1 run to a 13-7 lead.
Ritsick had five points and Rutkowski four during the run. Ritsick produced the 13-7 lead with a three-pointer from the left wing and hit another from the same spot a minute later.
We knew they were going to come out in different defenses so I told my girls to just be patient, Crestwood coach Isiah Walker said. We were going to slow it down, figure out what they were in, then attack it.
They like to get you going full speed, not know what's going on and take bad shots.
Ali Brady came off the bench and hit three baskets in a three-minute span of the second quarter to help keep Pittston Area within 23-20 at the half.
Eastin Ashby's three-pointers from the right wing put Pittston Area ahead to stay, 33-31, with 1:33 left in the third quarter.
CRESTWOOD (45): Dallas Kendra 0 0-0 0, Lauren Carter 0 0-0 0, Rebecca Rutkowski 7 0-2 14, Rachael Ritz 4 0-1 9, Maury Cronauer 2 0-2 5, Taryn Wojnar 0 0-0 0, Maddy Ritsick 6 3-6 17, Deidra Ciavarella 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 3-11 45.
PITTSTON AREA (49): Allie Barber 3 0-1 6, Liz Waleski 2 1-3 5, Jacqueline Rabender 2 1-2 5, Mia Hopkins 8 1-5 17, Ali Brady 4 0-0 8, Eastin Ashby 3 1-1 8. Totals 22 4-11 49.
3-Point Field Goals— CRE 4 (Ritz, Cronauer, Ritsick); PA 1 (Ashby).