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High School Girls' Basketball
PIAA District 3A Class A Final
Lebanon Catholic 67, Halifax 43
'Cats upended by speedy Beavers
By Janet Smeltz, CONTRIBUTING WRITER


Halifax's Brianna Turner wrestles with Lebanon Catholic's Jayden Shellehamer for the ball as Lebanon Catholic's Neesha Pierre blocks. (Sentinel photo by Todd Gearhart)

HERSHEY • Second-seeded Halifax got off to a slow start against top-seeded Lebanon Catholic, who bolted out to a commanding lead in the first quarter.

The Lady Wildcats would never recover, falling to the Beavers 67-43 in the District 3, Class A championship Feb. 25 at the Giant Center.

The Cats still qualify for the PIAA Class A state tournament and will face District 12-A runner-up New Media Saturday, March 5 at Central Dauphin East High School, Harrisburg. Tip off is 4 p.m.


In first period action, Lebanon Catholic transitioned immediately into its  fast breaking style of basketball. Before Halifax knew it, the Beavers, who had a distinct advantage in speed, had a 6-0 lead.

The Cats could find no answer to the Beavers’ repeated drives and quick transition buckets. Halifax also struggled with turnovers that were cashed in for points and would never find their offensive groove they so badly needed.

Brianna Turner scored on an offensive putback and Kristina Kelley drained two free throws, but they would be the Cats’ only first quarter points as Lebanon took a 16-4 lead.

“It took almost an entire quarter for us to shake the nerves.” Halifax Head Coach Dean Kerstetter said.  “We had nine turnovers to only eight shots, making one in the first quarter.

‘‘I knew that Lebanon Catholic got off to fast starts all season long,’’ he added. ‘‘The key was to slow them down in the first quarter, but we were unable to keep them within reach after our slow start.”

By halftime, the Beavers would lead 32-15. But the Cats didn’t fold.

In the third period, Kendall Lehman's bucket was followed by a triple from Kassidy Sorichetti. Buckets by Kristina Kelley, Melody Davis and Brianna Turner would narrow the gap in scoring as Halifax trailed by 12 (40-28) with three minutes remaining in the third frame.

But as quickly as Halifax gained momentum, the Beavers answered right back. Pottsville Nativity transfer Allison Warren drained two back to back triples and a bucket to snuff out any hopes of a Wildcat comeback. Lebanon led 50-30 after three periods.

“The girls kept working hard even after the slow first quarter. In the second half, we went 13-for-25 from the field,” said Kerstetter.

The Beavers continued with back door cuts down the stretch to seal their 18th District 3 title in the school’s history.

“We held their leading scorer (Warren) to four points in the first half, but she got hot in the second half, scoring 17 more points,’’ said Kerstetter. ‘‘This is a reason we could not get back into the game.”

For Halifax, Turner scored eight points with eight rebounds and two steals. Kelley added eight points with seven rebounds and three steals. Sorichetti also scored eight points with two blocks.

The Beavers hits 29-for-57 from the field while Halifax connected on 18-for-45. Lebanon Catholic out-rebounded the Cats, 31-29. Halifax committed 23 turnovers to Lebanon’s 15 for the night.

The Beavers had three players in double digits with Warren (21 points), Neesha Pierre (18 points) and Celine Mars (16 points).

 

D3-AA SEMIFINAL

Halifax 63, Harrisburg Academy 36, Feb. 23. The Lady Cats controlled the boards and utilized a full court pressure defense to  pull away after a close first quarter and eventually quiet the Lady Spartans. 

It was not an easy first quarter for Halifax, which struggled to get its offense into high gear. 

Kassidy  Sorichetti hit a triple early on, but Laura Mowery countered with a downtown trey to tie the contest.  It was back-and-forth action as both teams battled, trying to settle into its offensive groove. Halifax also turned the ball over several times.  Despite the Cats out rebounding the Spartans, there was little offense generated to back up their efforts. 

With less than a minute of play, Melody Davis found Kendall Lehman on a backdoor cut to knot the score at 12-12. Just as quickly, Mowery countered back and the Spartans took a slim lead. But Sorichetti drained another three with 20 seconds remaining in the first frame. Kristina Kelley earned one of what would be many steals for her during the game and was fouled on the fast break, adding a free throw and giving Halifax a 16-14 lead.

The Cats quickly turned things around in the second quarter, outscoring the Spartans 20-12, thanks to a great offensive performance by Brianna Turner who used her height advantage to post inside. 

Brynn Miller’s jumper started the frame. A Sorichetti steal – one of many she would earn throughout this contest, turned into a three point play. Turner then connected on two low-block jumpers before a couple of turnovers kept the Spartans within striking distance. 

Claire Mackin, and Mowery, kept the Spartans close with a transition bucket and a trey.  But with less than two minutes remaining, a Kelley steal and offensive putback and a free throw was followed by a Julia Hoon inside bucket and Halifax led 36-26 at halftime. 

The Cats were led by Turner, who scored 11 points and Sorichetti with 10 points in the quarter.

The third period proved to be the icing on the cake, as Halifax controlled the game’s pace, while crashing the boards and playing solid defense.  The Cats outscored Academy 14-5 and led 50-31 after three. 

Great ball movement allowed Sorichetti to drain two triples and a drive through the paint while Turner scored inside the paint thanks to great passing by Miller and her teammates’ unselfish play.

The Cats, led by Turner and Kelley continued to crash the boards while allowing Turner to cash in on three nice offensive moves inside the paint.  The Cats were able to hold Mackin, who scored 11 points in the first half, to just two free throws in the second half.

The Cats were led by Turner with 23 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.  Sorichetti added 20 points, seven rebounds and six steals while Kelley  had an outstanding effort, coming off the bench to score 10 points, grab 14 rebounds and earn six steals with two assists. 

Mowery was the Spartans’ high scorer with 15 points, while Mackin added 13.  The Cats outrebounded the Spartans 55-37. Halifax hit 24-for-71 from the field while limiting Academy to 12-for-51.  The Spartans committed 26 turnovers and Halifax 19.

‘‘The girls came out in the second half and put the defensive clamps on Harrisburg Academy, holding them to  two field goals,’’ said Halifax Head Coach Dean Kerstetter. ‘‘Defensively, Brynn Miller and Kassidy Sorichetti frustrated Harrisburg Academy's two leading scorers all game long. 

‘‘It was nice to have two players score 20 points tonight,’’ he added. ‘‘Brianna Turner had a really nice game inside and Kassidy did damage from behind the arc. In the second half, everyone contributed to the victory. Kristina Kelley gave us a shot in the arm as she and Brianna each had a double-double.’’

 

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