After switching baskets, Scranton Prep completely transformed a District 2 Class 3A girls semifinal game with a blizzard of points.
Maybe that wasn’t completely coincidence.
Finally bolting away from — not toward — a boisterous Pittston Area cheering section, Danielle Dalessandro drilled two three-pointers as Prep scored the first 14 points of the second half while turning a tie game into a 58-40 rout at Valley View High School.
“The second half, they came out and they built a lead,” Pittston Area coach Kathy Healey said. “We cut it down. Then I don’t know what happened.
“It just snowballed from there.”
The 22-4 Patriots weren’t left out in the cold.
They’ll face Holy Redeemer on Saturday in a district consolation game for the right to advance to the PIAA tournament. But Prep and Honesdale are already assured to state berths before they square off for the District 2 title.
And Cavaliers 600-win coach Ross Macciocco believes he knows what helped his team get there.
When the teams changed ends of the floor following intermission, Prep’s fortunes went through the hoop — and way up through the roof.
“We executed a little better in the second half,” said Macciocco, now in his 32nd season, as his 22-1 team bolted to its 19th consecutive victory. “The first half, the Pittston fans were so loud down there, my kids couldn’t hear.”
It wasn’t difficult to see what he was talking about.
A Prep team that appeared choppy and disorganized at times during a first half that sent the teams into intermission tied at 18-18 suddenly found smooth sailing at the other end of the court.
And the hopes of both teams headed in opposite directions.
Tricia Byrne began Prep’s surge with a three-point play, and Dalessandro followed with consecutive threes as the Caviliers zoomed to a nine-point advantage just 90 seconds into the third quarter.
Olivia Burke and Emily Pritchyk later added buckets in the 14-0 run that left Prep with a 32-18 lead, before Allie Barber broke Pittston Area’s scoring drought with a layup.
“They were just beating us down the court,” Healey said. “That’s not typical of our team.
“I’m scratching my head.”
Pittston Area tried to scratch back from its four-point third quarter that put the Patriots in a 12-point hole entering the fourth.
Eastin Ashby opened the final quarter with a 3-point goal, then Liz Waleski’s three-point-play pulled Pittston Area within 36-30 with 6:54 remaining.
But that’s as close as the Patriots came to a comeback, as Byrne scored the last nine of her game-high 18 points for Prep in the final quarter and Burke added 11 of her 16 down the stretch to put the game out of Pittston Area’s reach for good.
“It’s a credit to the kids, the determination and drive they have,” Macciocco said. “They believe in each other, they’re not afraid to share the basketball.”
Now, Pittston Area has to rebound quickly if it wants to share a trip to states, too.
“We use that word a lot — resiliency,” Healey said. “Even when they’re down, you expect them to come back. They’re disappointed in themselves in how they played. But they’re excited to play again. We could definitely regroup and pick ourselves up.
“It’s not over yet.”
PITTSTON AREA (40): Allie Barber 1 1-4 3, Liz Waleski 3 1-1 7, Eastin Ashby 3 0-0 8, Mia Hopkins 7 2-2 17, Ali Brady 1 0-0 3, Jackie Rabender 0 2-2 2, Jamie Chisdock 0 0-0 0, Cales Owens 0 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Simyan 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 6-9 40.
SCRANTON PREP (58): Bridget Walsh 2 1-2 5, Tricia Byrne 8 2-3 18, Danielle Dalessandro 5 0-0 13, Olivia Burke 7 2-6 16, Sam Genco 1 0-0 2, Madison Ashby 0 0-0 0, Emily Pritchyk 1 0-0 2, Labrae Lavelle 1 0-0 2, Claire Philbin 0 0-0 0, Jordan Melon 0 0-0 0, Rosie Walsh 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 5-11 58.
Pittston Area 11 7 4 18 — 40
Scranton Prep 9 9 16 24 — 58
Three-point goals: PA 4 (Ashby 2, Brady, Hopkins); SP 3 (Dalessandro 3)