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High School Girls' Basketball - PIAA Class A Second Round
Lourdes ends one of
Lady Vikes' best campaigns

By Janet Smeltz, CONTRIBUTING WRITER


Williams Valley's Caitlyn Pinchorski launches a shot over the hand of Lourdes Regional's Kaitlyn Funk a game played March 11 during the second round of PIAA state playoffs. (Sentinel photo by Lon Zeiders)

POTTSVILLE • Williams Valley’s hopes of advancing to the quarterfinal round of PIAA Class A competition came to a disappointing end when Lourdes Regional took over in the final minutes at Martz Hall to prevail, 47-37, in second-round state competition March 11.

The loss ends an exciting run for the Lady Vikings, who recorded an impressive 17-9 record, earning the respect of dedicated fans that followed them to the very end.

“The kids gave us a great effort, but unfortunately, we could not put the ball in the basket. After totally dominating the first quarter, we only led 7-5. The rest of the game was much of the same,” said Viking Head Coach Brian Unger.

It was a game of runs, as each team recorded several bouts of scoring spurts to take the lead. 

Williams Valley started the first quarter on an impressive note, as they went on a 7-0 run with contributions from Jenna Daniel, Haley Nestor, Kate Whelski and Rayanne Hawk. Lourdes would not score until the 3:15 mark of the quarter. The Lady Vikings utilized a 2-2-1 full court press and using various zone defenses mixed with man-to-man to hold Lourdes to five points.

In the second quarter, things began clicking for the Raiders, as they made defensive adjustments and put together a 10-0 run. Lourdes packed in its defense, not allowing Williams Valley to penetrate in the second, and forcing the Vikings to rely on their outside game where they struggled. 

With 3:53 remaining, Lourdes led 17-10.  Hawk’s subsequent jumper finally broke the scoring drought.  Williams Valley continued to exert full court pressure.  Carmella Bickel, utilizing back door cuts, was a thorn in the Vikings side as she scored seven straight points, including a trey. A Krissy Komaro baseline jumper at the buzzer would give Lourdes a 21-13 halftime lead

The Lady Vikings would come out of halftime with a 6-0 run, led by Hannah Nestor, to pull within two (21-19).  But just as quickly, the Red Raiders put on a 6-0 run of their own to lead 27-19. Whelski  drained a badly needed three.  Haley Nestor’s three point play was followed by an offensive put back and free throw by Whelski as Williams Valley closed the gap, trailing 28-31 after three periods.

With the Lady Vikings utilizing a man-to-man defense in the fourth quarter and Whelski on fire from the outside, the game became a thriller as another trey by Whelski would knot the score 31-31 for the first time since the second quarter. 

Just as quickly, the momentum the Vikings worked so hard to gain would shift, as Red Raider guard Bailey Trell would sink a triple. Whelski then connected on her third of four trey attempts to take a 34-31 lead with 6:15 remaining. Trell countered with a trey to again knot the score at 34-all. 

Things went terribly wrong for Williams Valley from that point on, as the Red Raiders would sizzle at the nets and go on a 13-0 stretch, led by Bickel and Trell, who went straight to the jugular, attacking the basket while forcing the Vikings to foul. 

The Red Raiders’ frenzied scoring took the wind out of the Vikings sails, who could find no answer in stopping them while missing scoring opportunities of their own,  shooting only 2-for-14 in the final frame.

“One of our season’s strengths, our foul shooting – we shot 4-for-10 for the game. Not the night that we wanted from a shooting standpoint,” said Unger. 

“We had a great season.  We accomplished many of our team goals,’’ he added.  ‘‘The girls were awesome throughout the year working hard at practice, doing what we asked of them. We had great senior leadership throughout the year. 

‘‘It is a tough way to end, but our coaching staff could not have worked with a better bunch of young ladies like we had this year,’’ Unger noted.

Whelski led the Vikings with 17 points. Hawk added seven, and Daniel contributed with six. For Lourdes, who shot 8-for-14 from the free-throw line, Bickel led her team with 22 points.  Trell added 15 points. 

Most of the Lady Viking players agreed that shots played a significant factor in the game’s outcome.

“I think the key to their victory was how aggressive they were and mainly that their shots fell tonight.  Ours did not,” Daniel said. “I’m definitely going to miss all of our seniors next year.”

“Bickel and Trell both had a really good game.  They contributed many points to their team,’’ Pinchorski noted. ‘‘I think them driving to the basket was the key to their victory because they would get fouled and they are very good foul shooters, so it was easy baskets for them.’’

“Lourdes just had a better game than us,’’ Hawk stated. ‘‘Not many of our shots were falling. We all have nothing to hang our heads about.  We had a very successful season together. It was a lot of fun and very memorable.’’

“I thought we had them, but the key to their victory was they played hard and their shots were falling,” Whelski said.

“I thought this season was a great run. These memories will stick with us forever because we did what no other Lady Viking team did (qualify for a district final). So that makes this year unforgettable.  And I’m amazed how far we came, but I knew it was possible because of all the hard work we put in and especially all the hard work the coaches put in. They put up with us for a while but never gave up on us.  They believed in us every step of our journey. So all in all, it was the best season ever.”


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