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High School Girls' Basketball - Susquenita 61, Halifax 60

League East/West leaders battle

Halifax's Brynn Miller and Susquenita's Katie Humphrey tangle over the ball. (Sentinel photo by Todd Gearhart)

COVE • The Jan. 27 contest between Susquenita, the top team in the Tri-Valley League West Division and Halifax, the top team in the East Division, lived up to its expectations of an all-out effort by both sides. 

In what can be described as a game of runs, it was the host Lady Blackhawks who escaped with an exciting 61-60 victory to remain undefeated in the TVL going into the final  week of the regular season.

This game started off at a fast and frenzied pace as Susquenita found its groove on the offensive end early, making their first eight shots.  

The Wildcats committed five turnovers that quickly became transition points for the Blackhawks, who led 21-13 after the first quarter.

After absorbing an early offensive blow by Susquenita, the Lady Cats gathered steam in the second period.  The Hawks cooled down in shooting while the Cats were just beginning to heat up.

Brianna Turner’s inbounds play from Kristina Kelley started things rolling.  Kassidy Sorichetti hit her first triple from the top of the key.  A Kelley steal gave way to a fast-breaking bucket by Sorichetti.  Sorichetti then found Kelley in transition, which gave way to a three point bonus, tying the game at 25 before halftime.

A missed Sorichetti shot found its way to Turner on an offensive put-back, giving Halifax its first lead of the night. A Turner swipe turned into another transition bucket from Sorichetti to Kelley.  A baseline drive by Turner and a crucial triple by Brynn Miller would see Halifax take a  34-32 lead at the break.

As quickly as they had rebounded in the first half, the Cats would find themselves coming up empty in the third quarter, turning over their first seven possessions, thanks to a tenacious Susquenita defense. Back-to-back turnovers found the Blackhawks converting those miscues into a 7-0 run as they led 40-35 with 3:22 remaining. 

Turnovers and finding the bottom of the net continued to haunt the Cats. Turner’s foul line jumper finally gave Halifax its first and only bucket of the third period, as the Wildcats were outscored 13-2 and trailed 46-37 after three.

The fourth quarter saw the Cats rebound again as they chipped away at Susquenita’s lead, eventually outscoring the Hawks 16-7 to tie the game 53-53 with 2:50 remaining. In that span, Brynn Miller scored seven points with help from Julia Hoon and Sorichetti. 

With the tie knotted at 55-all, a tie-up gave Halifax possession with two minutes remaining, but they came up empty handed.  Susquenita sank two free throws and a drive gave them a 59-55 lead with 1:36 remaining. 

But just as quickly, a Turner three-point bonus play put the Cats right back into contention (59-58). Susquenita, after making the first shot at the charity stripe, missed the second, but Halifax was unable to grab the rebound,  forcing the Cats to foul the Blackhawks who chose to go into a stalling tactic with :46 remaining. 

Susquenita hit the second shot and led 61-58 with 23 seconds remaining. Halifax crossed the time line and Head Coach Dean Kerstetter called a timeout with 13 seconds to go.

Two more timeouts would be called with less than 10 seconds left, as Halifax had one last chance to tie the game with a triple. The shot attempt fell short, although Turner converted a bucket as time ran out and Halifax fell by a point.

“This was a game that had several runs by both teams. We were down by nine twice only to comeback to either go ahead or tie the game, Kerstetter said afterward. ‘‘The girls really showed their heart to battle back both times. Brianna Turner had a nice offensive game against the best defensive team in the TVL coming into the night.”

Top performers for Halifax included Turner (20 points, eight rebounds); Sorichetti (16 points, five assists, three steals); Miller (12 points, two steals) and Kelley (seven points, nine rebounds). 

For Susquenita, Amber Siegfried led all scorers with 26 points.  Katie Humphrey scored 15 and Brittany Krick added 13. The Blackhawks shot 23-for-42 from the perimeter while Halifax connected on 24-of-53. The Cats out-rebounded Susquenita 31-19.  Susquenita hit 13-for-19 from the free throw line while Halifax hit nine-for-13.

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